A sensor is a device that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument.
For example, a mercury thermometer converts the measured temperature into expansion and contraction of a liquid which can be read on a calibrated glass tube.
Another electrical type, known as thermocouple, converts temperature to an output voltage which can be read by a voltmeter.
For accuracy, all sensors need to be calibrated against known standards.
Sensors are used in everyday objects such as touch-sensitive elevator buttons and lamps which dim or brighten by touching the base. There are also innumerable applications for sensors of which most people are never aware. Applications include automobiles, machines, aerospace, medicine, industry, and robotics.
A sensor's sensitivity indicates how much the sensor's output changes when the measured quantity changes. For instance, if the mercury in a thermometer moves 1 cm when the temperature changes by 1°, the sensitivity is 1 cm/1°.
Technological progress allows more and more sensors to be engineered and manufactured in time to come.
Because sensors are a type of transducer, they change one form of energy into another. For this reason, sensors can be classified according to the type of energy transfer that they detect.
Different types are, Thermal, Electromagnetic, Mechanical, Chemical etc.
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