Wood as a Weight Sensor for Detecting People in a Wood-Frame Building

shows the various technologies that make a building smart. One of these technologies pertain to sensors. This project relates to sensing.

This project investigates the use of wood as a scale, so that people in a wood-frame building can be detected in real time (e.g., for intruder detection and energy conservation) and creating "smart" buildings.

Project description

The ability of wood to serve as a weight sensor is investigated, with an application being the sensing of people in a wood-frame building. For example, when an intruder enters a wood-frame building, the intruder is sensed due to his weight. In addition, the weight of a room relates to the room occupancy, which can be used to control the heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting for the purpose of saving energy. The use of cameras for room occupancy monitoring is not desirable, due to privacy concerns. Furthermore, cameras have limited fields of view, so the detection of people (e.g., intruders) is not completely reliable. The science behind this ability of wood is based on the effect of load on the capacitance of the wood.

Project outcome

The project outcome will be experimental results on the effectiveness of wood as a weight sensor. The results will include the effect of various load levels on the capacitance of wood. The results will probably be publishable in a professional journal.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester (3-5 months)
Start time Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Individual student project
Benefits Academic Credit
Who is eligible Juniors and Seniors who have taken MAE381

Project mentor

Deborah Chung


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Phone: (716) 645-3977

Email: ddlchung@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

View the videos listed below concerning smart buildings, smart building materials, and capacitance:


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering