A sensing floor is a floor with embedded sensors. Depending on their construction, these floors are either monobloc (e.g. structures made of a single frame, carpets). or modular (e.g. tiled floors, floors made of stripes of sensors). The first sensing floor prototypes were developed in the 1990s, mainly for human gait analysis. Such floors are usually used as a source of sensing information for an ambient intelligence. Depending on the type of sensors employed, sensing floors can measure load (pressure), proximity (to detect, track, and recognize humans), as well as the magnetic field (for detecting metallic objects like robots using magnetometers).
Sensing floors have a variety of usages:
- Gait analysis for human identification and continuous health diagnosis (either in domestic or hospital environments)
- Mapping of the environment for autonomous robots
- Controller for interactive applications (as a MIDI music instrument, a games controller, dance movement analysis, etc.)
More than 30 distinct sensing floor prototypes have been developed between 1990 and 2015. Notable examples of sensing floors have been developed by Oracle, MIT, and Inria. As of 2015, few sensing floors are available as commercial products, mainly targeting healthcare facilities (e.g. the GAITRite surface pressure sensing floor, and the SensFloor).
- Joseph Paradiso, Craig Abler, Kai-yuh Hsiao, Matthew Reynolds, The magic carpet: physical sensing for immersive environments, CHI '97 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1997.
- Yu-Lin Shen, Chow-Shing Shin Distributed Sensing Floor for an Intelligent Environment, IEEE Sensors Journal, December 2009, pp. 1673 –1678.
- Albrecht Schmidt, Martin Strohbach, Kristof van Laerhoven, Adrian Friday, Hans-Werner Gellersen, Context Acquisition Based on Load Sensing, Proceedings of the 4th international conference on Ubiquitous Computing, UbiComp 2002.
- Mihai Andries, Olivier Simonin, François Charpillet Localization of Humans, Objects, and Robots Interacting on Load-Sensing Floors, IEEE Sensors Journal, Volume 16, Issue 4, Feb, 2016
- M.D. Addlesee, A. Jones, F. Livesey, F. Samaria The ORL active floor [sensor system], IEEE Personal Communications, 1997
- Bruce Richardson, Krispin Leydon, Mikael Fernström, Joseph A. Paradiso, Z-Tiles: building blocks for modular, pressure-sensing floorspaces, CHI, 2004
- Mihai Andries, Object and human tracking, and robot control through a load sensing floor, PhD dissertation, Université de Lorraine, 2015. Chapter 7 on "Providing roadmaps for autonomous robotic navigation".
- The Active Gaming Company. Lightspace floor
- Prashant Srinivasan, David Birchfield, Gang Qian, Assegid Kidané, A pressure sensing floor for interactive media applications, Proceedings of the 2005 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in computer entertainment technology, pp. 278--281, ACM 2005
- Mihai Andries, Object and human tracking, and robot control through a load sensing floor, PhD dissertation, Université de Lorraine, 2015. Chapter 2 "Sensing floors: existing prototypes and related work" contains a comprehensive list of sensing floor prototypes.
- GAITRite sensing carpet
- Christl Lauterbach, Axel Steinhage, Axel Techmer, Large-area wireless sensor system based on smart textiles, International Multi-Conference on Systems, Sygnals Devices, 2012