Mounted smartphones as measurement and control platforms for motor-based laboratory test-beds

Jared A. Frank, Anthony Brill, Vikram Kapila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laboratory education in science and engineering often entails the use of test-beds equipped with costly peripherals for sensing, acquisition, storage, processing, and control of physical behavior. However, costly peripherals are no longer necessary to obtain precise measurements and achieve stable feedback control of test-beds. With smartphones performing diverse sensing and processing tasks, this study examines the feasibility of mounting smartphones directly to test-beds to exploit their embedded hardware and software in the measurement and control of the test-beds. This approach is a first step towards replacing laboratory-grade peripherals with more compact and affordable smartphone-based platforms, whose interactive user interfaces can engender wider participation and engagement from learners. Demonstrative cases are presented in which the sensing, computation, control, and user interaction with three motor-based test-beds are handled by a mounted smartphone. Results of experiments and simulations are used to validate the feasibility of mounted smartphones as measurement and feedback control platforms for motor-based laboratory test-beds, report the measurement precision and closed-loop performance achieved with such platforms, and address challenges in the development of platforms to maintain system stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1331
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 20 2016


  • Control
  • Laboratory
  • Mechatronics
  • Sensing
  • Smartphone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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