Top 15 Sensor Types Being Used Most By IoT Application Development Companies

Businesses across various industries have been using multiple types of IoT sensors for a long time. Still, the invention of the Internet of Things has taken the evolution of sensors to a completely different level.

IoT platforms function and deliver various kinds of intelligence and data using a variety of sensors. They serve to collect data, push it and share it with a whole network of connected devices. All this collected data makes it possible for machines to function autonomously, and the entire ecosystem is becoming “smarter” daily.

By combining sensors and a communication network, devices share information and improve their effectiveness and functionality.

Take Tesla vehicles as an example. All of the sensors on a car record their perception of the surroundings, uploading the information into a massive database.

The data is then processed, and all the essential new pieces of information are sent to all other vehicles. This is an ongoing process through which a whole fleet of Tesla vehicles is becoming smarter daily.

Let’s look at some of the critical list of types of sensors used in IoT that are extensively used.

Temperature sensors

By definition, “A device used to measure the amount of heat energy that allows detecting a physical change in temperature from a particular source and converts the data for a device or user, is known as a Temperature Sensor.”

These sensors have been deployed for a long time in various devices. However, with the emergence of IoT, they have found more room to be present in an even more significant number of devices.

Only a couple of years ago, their uses mainly included A/C control, refrigerators, and similar devices used for environmental control. However, with the advent of the IoT world, they have found their role in manufacturing processes, agriculture, and the health industry.

In the manufacturing process, many machines require specific environmental temperatures, as well as device temperatures. With this kind of measurement, the manufacturing process can always remain optimal.

On the other hand, in agriculture, the temperature of the soil is crucial for crop growth. This helps with the production of plants, maximizing the output.

Followed are some sub-categories of Temp Sensors:

  • Thermocouples: These are voltage devices that indicate temperature measuring with a change in voltage. As the temperature goes up, the output voltage of the thermocouple rises.
  • Resistor temperature detectors (RTD): The device’s resistance is directly proportional to the temperature, increasing positively when the temperature rises and resistance increases.
  • Thermistors: A temperature-sensitive resistor changes its physical resistance with the temperature change.
  • IC (Semiconductor): They are linear devices where the conductivity of the semiconductor increases linearly, and it takes advantage of the variable resistance properties of semiconductor materials. It can provide a direct temperature reading in digital form, especially at low temperatures.
  • Infrared sensors: It detects temperature by intercepting a portion of emitted infrared energy of the object or substance and sensing its intensity; they can be used to measure the temperature of solids and liquids only; not possible to use it on gases because of their transparent nature.

Proximity sensor

A device that detects the presence or absence of a nearby object or properties of that object and converts it into a signal which can be easily read by a user or a simple electronic instrument without getting in contact with them.

Proximity sensors are used mainly in the retail industry, as they can detect motion and the correlation between the customer and the product they might be interested in. A user is immediately notified of discounts and special offers of nearby products.

Another significant and quite old use case is vehicles. If you are reversing your car and are alarmed about an obstacle while taking the reverse, that’s the work of a proximity sensor.

They are also used for parking availability in places such as malls, stadiums, or airports.

Following are some of the Proximity Sensors sub-categorized:

  • Inductive Sensors: Inductive proximity sensors are used for non-contact detection to find the presence of metallic objects using electromagnetic fields or a beam of electromagnetic radiation. It can operate at higher speeds than mechanical switches and also seems more reliable because of its robustness.
  • Capacitive Sensors: Capacitive proximity sensors can detect both metallic and non-metallic targets. Nearly all other materials are dielectric different from air. It can sense very small objects through a large portion of the target. So, generally used in complex and complicated applications.
  • Photoelectric Sensors: Photoelectric sensor is made up of light-sensitive parts and uses a beam of light to detect the presence or absence of an object. It is an ideal alternative to inductive sensors. And used for long-distance sensing or to sense non-metal things.
  • Ultrasonic Sensors: Ultrasonic sensors are also used to detect the presence or to measure the distance of targets, similar to radar or sonar. This makes a reliable solution for harsh and demanding conditions.

Need Help with IoT
Application Development?

  • Proven
  • Transparent
  • Dependable

Pressure sensor

A pressure sensor is a device that senses pressure and converts it into an electric signal. Here, the amount depends upon the level of pressure applied.

Plenty of devices rely on liquid or other forms of pressure. These sensors make it possible to create IoT systems that monitor systems and devices that are pressure propelled. With any deviation from the standard pressure range, the device notifies the system administrator about any problems that should be fixed.

Deployment of these sensors is very useful in the manufacturing and maintenance of whole water systems and heating systems, as it is easy to detect any fluctuation or drops in pressure.

Water quality sensor

Water quality sensors detect water quality and Ion monitoring, primarily in water distribution systems.

Water is practically used everywhere. These sensors are essential as they monitor water quality for different purposes. They are used in a variety of industries.

Following is a list of the most common kind of water sensors in use:

  • Chlorine Residual Sensor: It measures chlorine residual (i.e., free chlorine, monochloramine & total chlorine) in water and is most widely used as a disinfectant because of its efficiency.
  • Total Organic Carbon Sensor: TOC sensor measures organic elements in water.
  • Turbidity Sensor: Turbidity sensors measure suspended solids in water; typically, it is used in river and stream gaging, wastewater, and effluent measurement.
  • Conductivity Sensor: Conductivity measurements are carried out in industrial processes primarily to obtain information on total ionic concentrations (i.e., dissolved compounds) in water solutions.
  • pH Sensor: It measures the pH level in the dissolved water, indicating how acidic or basic (alkaline) it is.
  • Oxygen-Reduction Potential Sensor: The ORP measurement provides insights into the level of oxidation/reduction reactions occurring in the solution.

Chemical sensor

Chemical sensors are applied in different industries. Their goal is to indicate changes in liquid or to find out air chemical changes. They play an essential role in bigger cities, where tracking changes and protecting the population is necessary.

The primary use cases of chemical sensors can be found in Industrial environmental monitoring and process control, intentionally or accidentally released harmful chemical detection, explosive and radioactive detection, recycling processes on Space Station, pharma industries and laboratories, etc.

Following are the most common kinds of chemical sensors in use:

  • Chemical field-effect transistor
  • Chemiresistor
  • Electrochemical gas sensor
  • Fluorescent chloride sensor
  • Hydrogen sulfide sensor
  • Nondispersive infrared sensor
  • pH glass electrode
  • Potentiometric sensor
  • Zinc oxide nanorod sensor

Gas sensor

Gas sensors are similar to chemical ones but are specifically used to monitor air quality changes and detect the presence of various gases. Like chemical sensors, they are used in numerous industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, and health and used for air quality monitoring, detection of toxic or combustible gas, hazardous gas monitoring in coal mines, oil & gas industries, chemical laboratory research, manufacturing – paints, plastics, rubber, pharmaceutical & petrochemical, etc.

Following are some common Gas sensors:

  • Carbon dioxide sensor
  • Breathalyzer
  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Catalytic bead sensor
  • Hydrogen sensor
  • Air pollution sensor
  • Nitrogen oxide sensor
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Ozone monitor
  • Electrochemical gas sensor
  • Gas detector
  • Hygrometer

Smoke sensor

A smoke sensor is a device that senses smoke (airborne particulates & gases) and it’s level.

They have been in use for an extended period. However, with the development of IoT, they are now even more effective, as they are plugged into a system that immediately notifies the user about any problem that occurs in different industries.

Smoke sensors are extensively used by the manufacturing industry, HVAC, buildings, and accommodation infra to detect fire and gas incidences. This protects people working in dangerous environments, as the system is much more effective than the older ones.

Common Types of Smoke Sensors

Smoke sensors detect the presence of Smoke, Gases, and Flame surrounding their field. It can be seen optically by the physical process or by using both methods.

  • Optical smoke sensor (Photoelectric): Optical smoke sensor uses the light scatter principle trigger to occupants.
  • Ionization smoke sensor: Ionization smoke sensor works on the principle of ionization, a kind of chemistry to detect molecules causing a trigger alarm.

IR sensors

An infrared sensor is a sensor that is used to sense specific characteristics of its surroundings by either emitting or detecting infrared radiation. It is also capable of measuring the heat being emitted by objects.

These days, if a professional IoT development company happens to execute an IoT project, it commonly uses IR sensors. Their use is common, especially in healthcare, as they simplify monitoring blood flow and blood pressure. They are even used in regular intelligent devices such as smartwatches and smartphones.

Other everyday use includes home appliances & remote control, breath analysis, Infrared vision (i.e., visualize heat leaks in electronics, monitor blood flow, art historians to see under layers of paint), wearable electronics, optical communication, non-contact based temperature measurements, automotive blind-angle detection.

Their usage does not end there; they are also an excellent tool for ensuring high-level security in your home. Also, their application includes environment checks, as they can detect various chemicals and heat leaks. They will play an essential role in the smart home industry, as they have many applications.

Level sensors

A sensor that is used to determine the level or amount of fluids, liquids, or other substances that flow in an open or closed system is called a Level sensor.

Like IR sensors, level sensors are present in various industries. They are primarily known for measuring fuel levels but are also used in businesses that work with liquid materials. For example, the recycling industry and the juice and alcohol industry rely on these sensors to measure the number of liquid assets in their possession.

The best use cases of the level sensor are fuel gauging & liquid levels in open or closed containers, sea level monitoring & Tsunami warning, water reservoirs, medical equipment, compressors, hydraulic reservoirs, machine tools, beverage and pharmaceutical processing, high or low-level detection, etc.

This helps better streamline their businesses, as sensors collect all the critical data at all times. Using these sensors, any product manager can precisely see how much liquid is ready to be distributed and whether the manufacturing should be stepped up.

There are two basic level measurement types:

  • Point level sensors: Point level sensors usually detect a specific level and respond to the user if the sensing object is above or below that level. It is integrated into a single device to get an alarm or trigger
  • Continuous level Sensor: Continuous level sensors measure liquid or dry material levels within a specified range and provide outputs that continuously indicate the status. The best example of it is the fuel level display in the vehicle.

Image sensors

Image sensors convert optical images into electronic signals for displaying or storing files electronically.

The primary use of image sensors is in digital cameras & modules, medical imaging and night vision equipment, thermal imaging devices, radar, sonar, media houses, and Biometric & IRIS devices.

Two main types of sensors are used:

  • CCD (charge-coupled device), and
  • CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) imagers.

Although each types of sensors in IoT use different technology to capture images, both CCD and CMOS imagers use metal-oxide semiconductors, having the same degree of sensitivity to light, and no inherent quality difference

An average consumer would think that this is a regular camera. Still, even though this is not far from the truth, image sensors are connected to a wide range of devices, making their functionality much better.

One of the best-known uses includes the car industry, in which imagery plays a very important role, and an automotive software development company would heavily rely on it to bring automation. With these sensors, the system can recognize signs, obstacles, and many other things that a driver would generally notice on the road. They play a very important role in the IoT industry, as they directly affect the progress of driverless cars.

They are also implemented in improved security systems, where images help capture details about the perpetrator.

In the retail industry, these sensors collect customer data, helping businesses get a better insight into who is visiting their store; race, gender, and age are only some of the functional parameters that retail owners get by using these IoT sensors.

Motion detection sensors

A motion detector is an electronic device that is used to detect the physical movement (motion) in a given area, and it transforms motion into an electric signal; motion of any object or motion of human beings

Motion detection plays a vital role in the security industry. Businesses utilize these different sensor types in areas where no movement should be detected at all times, and it is easy to notice anybody’s presence with these sensors installed.

A software development firm or IoT company will use these sensors primarily for intrusion detection systems, automatic door control, boom barrier, smart camera (i.e., motion-based capture/video recording), toll plaza, automatic parking systems, automated sinks/toilet flushers, hand dryers, energy management systems(i.e., Automated Lighting, AC, Fan, Appliances Control), etc.

On the other hand, these sensors can also decipher different movements, making them useful in some industries where a customer can communicate with the system by waving a hand or performing a similar action. E.g., someone can wave to a sensor in the retail store to request assistance with making the right purchase decision. Alternatively, you could also build apps that perform a similar action using a Java application development or on iOS.

Even though their primary use is correlated with the security industry, as technology advances, the number of possible applications of these sensors will only grow.

Following are key motion sensor types widely used:

  • Passive Infrared (PIR): It Detects body heat (infrared energy) and is the most Commonly used sensors in IOT for home security.
  • Ultrasonic: Sends out pulses of ultrasonic waves and measures the reflection of a moving object by tracking the speed of sound waves.
  • Microwave: Sends out radio wave pulses and measures the reflection of a moving object. They cover a larger area than infrared & ultrasonic sensors, but they are vulnerable to electrical interference and more expensive.

Accelerometer sensors

An accelerometer is a transducer that measures the physical or measurable acceleration experienced by an object due to inertial forces and converts the mechanical motion into an electrical output. It is defined as the rate of change of velocity concerning time

These sensors are now present in millions of devices, such as smartphones. Their uses involve the detection of vibrations, tilting, and acceleration in general. This is great for monitoring your driving fleet or using a smart pedometer.

In some instances, it is used as anti-theft protection, as the sensor can send an alert through the system if an object that should remain stationary is moved.

They are widely used in cellular & media devices, vibration measurement, automotive control and detection, free-fall detection, aircraft and aviation industries, movement detection, sports academy/athletes behavior monitoring, consumer electronics, industrial & construction sites etc. Eg. In a smart car project, a .NET development company built a cross-platform app using these sensor data to evaluate driver behavior.

There are various kinds of accelerometers, and following are a few mainly used in IoT projects:

  • Hall-effect accelerometers: Hall-effect accelerometers use using Hall principle to measure acceleration; it measures the voltage variations caused by changes in a magnetic field around them.
  • Capacitive accelerometers: Capacitive accelerometers sense output voltage depending on the distance between two planar surfaces. Capacitive accelerometers are also less prone to noise and variation with temperature.
  • Piezoelectric accelerometers: Piezoelectric sensing principle works on the piezoelectric effect. Piezo-film-based accelerometers are best used to measure vibration, shock, and pressure.

Each accelerometer sensing technology has its advantages and compromises. Before selecting, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between the various types and the test requirements.

Gyroscope sensors

A sensor or device used to measure the angular rate or velocity is known as a Gyro sensor; Angular velocity is simply defined as a measurement of the rotation speed around an axis. It is used primarily for navigation and angular and rotational velocity measurement in 3-axis directions. The most critical application is monitoring the orientation of an object.

Their main applications are in-car navigation systems, game controllers, cellular & camera devices, consumer electronics, robotics control, drone & RC helicopter or UAV control, vehicle control/ADAS, and many more.

Various gyro sensors are selected by their working mechanism, output type, power, sensing range, and environmental conditions.

  • Rotary (classical) gyroscopes
  • Vibrating Structure Gyroscope
  • Optical Gyroscopes
  • MEMS(micro-electro-mechanical systems) Gyroscopes

These sensors are always combined with accelerometers. The use of these two sensors provides more feedback to the system. With gyroscopic sensors installed, many devices can help athletes improve the efficiency of their movements as they gain access to the athlete’s movement during sports activities.

This is only one example of its application; however, as the role of this sensor is to detect rotation or twist, its application is crucial for automating some manufacturing processes.

Humidity sensors

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in an atmosphere of air or other gases. The most commonly used terms are “Relative Humidity (RH)

These sensors usually use temperature sensors, as many manufacturing processes require perfect working conditions. By measuring humidity, you can ensure that the whole process runs smoothly. When there is any sudden change, action can be taken immediately, as sensors detect the change almost instantaneously.

Their applications and use can be found in the Industrial & residential domain for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems control. They can also be found in Automotive, museums, industrial spaces and greenhouses, meteorology stations, paint and coatings industries, hospitals & pharma industries to protect medicines

Optical sensors

Last but not least in IoT sensors list is an optical sensor is an IoT sensor type that measures the physical quantity of light rays and converts it into an electrical signal easily readable by the user or an electronic instrument/device.

IoT experts love optical sensors, as they are practical for measuring different things simultaneously. The technology behind this sensor allows it to monitor electromagnetic energy, which includes electricity, light, and so on.

Due to this fact, these sensors have found use in healthcare, environment monitoring, energy, aerospace, and many more industries. With their presence, oil, pharmaceutical, and mining companies are in a much better position to track environmental changes while keeping their employees safe.

Their primary use can be found in ambient light detection, digital optical switches, and optical fiber communications due to electrical isolation best suited for oil and gas applications, civil and transportation fields, high-speed network systems, elevator door control, assembly line part counters, and safety systems.

Also Read – Challenges in implementing IoT in retail

Following are the key types of optical sensors:

  • Photodetector: It uses light-sensitive semiconductor materials like photocells, photodiodes, or phototransistors to work as a photodetector
  • Fiber Optics: Fiber optics carry no current, So it’s immune to electrical & electromagnetics interference, and even in damaged conditions, no sparking or shock hazard happens.
  • Pyrometer: It estimates the temperature of an object by sensing the color of the light Objects radiate light according to their temperature and produces the same colors at the same temperature.
  • Proximity & Infrared: Proximity uses light to sense objects nearby, and Infrared is used where visible light would be inconvenient.

The Final verdict

So, here we have come to an end and well versed with List of sensors mentioned above. And it is clear that IoT has become incredibly popular, and current trends show that it is the future. It helps automate various processes, making these systems useful for regular consumers and businesses.

We have yet to see this technology’s full potential as the ecosystem evolves. From digital twins to Industry 4.0, we are witnessing a transformation. As a technology company, we are seeing increased demand for offshore software development for IoT projects or IoT hardware development which again reflects the belief of enterprises in this technology.

Need Help with IoT
Application Development?

  • Proven
  • Transparent
  • Dependable

Consider Yourself a Sensor Expert? Take This Interesting Quiz

Welcome to your Are You A sensor Expert? Take This Quiz

Book a Free consultation

Drop in your details and our analyst will be in touch with you at the earliest.


6565 N MacArthur Blvd, STE 225 Irving, Texas, 75039, United States