Sonar-based measurement of user presence and attention

Stephen Tarzia, Robert P. Dickz, Peter A Dinda, Gokhan Memik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

55 Scopus citations


We describe a technique to detect the presence of com- puter users. This technique relies on sonar using hard- ware that already exists on commodity laptop com- puters and other electronic devices. It leverages the fact that human bodies have a different effect on sound waves than air and other objects. We conducted a user study in which 20 volunteers used a computer equipped with our ultrasonic sonar software. Our results show that it is possible to detect the presence or absence of users with near perfect accuracy after only ten seconds of measurement. We find that this technique can differentiate varied user positions and actions, opening the possibility of future use in estimating attention level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUbiComp'09 - Proceedings of the 11th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2009
Event11th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, UbiComp'09 - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Sep 30 2009Oct 3 2009

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Other11th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, UbiComp'09
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Attention
  • Presence
  • Sonar
  • Ultrasonics
  • User study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


Dive into the research topics of 'Sonar-based measurement of user presence and attention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this