Seat Occupancy Detection using Capacitive Sensor

Abstract/Technology Overview

Capacitive sensing solutions are based on interference of objects or people with the electromagnetic field. Most commercial capacitive sensors have high sensitivity with limited range of less than 5cm for material detection, water level, counting in production line etc. Such sensors are not suitable for seat occupancy detection. Current seat occupancy detection solutions use pressure sensor mounted on a chair, which provides information on whether someone is seated on the chair, but not about whether a table position itself is occupied (and if so, by a human). Our technology uses table-mounted sensors, placed unobtrusively under the table and hidden from public view. The sensor senses human vs. object occupancy of the table passively and can last for years. The key advantages are that:

  1. The solution is very cheap and easy to install and use, and
  2. It can discriminate between not just occupancy vs. occupied states, but also whether the table location is human-occupied or not.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

The front end consists of sensors and microcontroller that executes optimised signal processing and filtering algorithms that make occupancy detection robust to environmental factors (e.g., height of a table, material of an object placed on table etc.). Our solution comes with a backend Web-based portal software that includes relevant statistical analytics modules, as well as capabilities to generate alerts based on individual or aggregate occupancy-based events.

Potential Applications

This product is relevant to public facility management for venues where there are a large number of seats and tables. Some examples include:

·         Restaurants and food courts

·         Stadiums

·         Library

·         Coffee shops

·         Concert Halls

Such Real-time occupancy detection can be useful for a variety of occupancy-aware services such as those described below: 

.          Real-time guidance and navigation to empty spaces;

.          Occupancy-driven dispatch of service staff (e.g., cleaners at food courts or vendors in sports venues) and

.          Analytics and compliance (e.g., ensuring that individuals do not block seats beyond a permitted duration).

Customer Benefit

Capacitive sensing solutions are based on interference of objects or people with the electromagnetic field. Together with the use of real-time occupancy detection, it will provide the following benefits which include:

·         Spot newly arriving and seated customers;

·         Display tables where customers have just left and need cleaning up;

·         Real-time seat occupancy monitoring;

.         Fine-grained statistics on facility usage

Technology Owner

Francis Lim


Singapore Management University, LiveLabs

Technology Category
  • Sensors & Instrumentation
  • Ambient Intelligence & Context-Aware Computing
Technology Status
  • Available for Licensing
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 4

Physical sensing, Seat occupancy detection, people sensing, Sensor network, IoT