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Measurement and Modeling Mutual Capacitance of Electrical Wiring and Humans

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2 Author(s)
Buller, W. ; Altarum Inst., Ann Arbor, MI ; Wilson, B.

In a recent series of electric field sensing experiments, a theremin was used to measure the mutual capacitance between a human being and a length of electrical wiring. The instrument, based on the LM555 circuit, measures the deflections in capacitance due to the proximity of a human. The measurements are repeatable, and the difference in capacitance for a person at 0.5 m with a person at 1 m is consistent with the difference computed, assuming the human acts as a ground plane for the wiring. Much of the current literature in electric field sensing focuses on measures and models of mutual capacitance for humans interacting with plate conductors [J. R. Smith, Electric field imaging, Ph.D. dissertation, Mass. Inst. Technol., Cambridge, MA, 1999; N. Karlsson and J. O. Jarrhed, A capacitive sensor for the detection of humans in a robot cell, in Proc. IEEE IMTC Rec., May 18-20, 1993 pp. 164-166.], especially fingers near touch screens [D. Wiebe, A. Machynia, K. Mazur, and J. Epp, Human-computer interface device based on electric field sensing, Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, 2004]. The present investigation considers conducting wires to allow the development of portable rapidly deployable human proximity sensing systems that exploit existing electrical infrastructure in buildings. The experiment described here demonstrates that sensing with wires is possible at ranges on the order of a meter and provides evidence that modeling the person as a ground plane of finite extent provides a rough estimate of the change in mutual capacitance

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Instrumentation and Measurement, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:55 ,  Issue: 5 )