Get Activity distance and direction from Motion Sensor?

I am very new in this area, is there any way I get obtain the Activity distance and/or direction from the Motion Sensor? From the capability reference doc [1] it seems like Motion Sensor doesn’t have any concept of the depth or direction. From what I understand this probably can be achieved by composite sensor? Is that correct or I am missing anything?

On a separate note, is there any motion sensor available that provide activity distance and/or direction?


Most consumer class motion sensors won’t have this ability (either completely impossible in the hardware used and/or firmware). It’s not their purpose: they have a simple waveform PIR sensor (Google “how does a Passive Infrared work”). They can only report lack of activity, activity detected, and reset.

While more complex sensors might exist, I have not heard of any (yet) for home automation.

If so… They will likely use cameras… Or someday LIDAR, etc.

There’s a startup in San Francisco which has patented an amazing chip sized true RADAR (accurate distance measurement)… Ideal for drones; but what is your use case?


As @tgauchat said, this just isn’t how the typical PIR motion sensor works. Those measure a very small change in heat moving across the sensor lens.

There are some fairly inexpensive lidar or similar type sensors available for robotics, it’s what keeps A robot vacuum or a flying drone from crashing into things, for example. But you would have to build your own interface to smartthings and you would have to put the sensor on something pretty smart, typically a raspberry pi.

So you might be able to build something for yourself, but there isn’t anything available off-the-shelf and it isn’t a typical part of home automation.


Thank you so much. My usecase is not exactly home automation usecase. I am trying to build a coordinate system inside the house.

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There are a couple of systems available to do that.

If you want to do one based on the person carrying the phone around with them, probably the least expensive is the estimote location I beacons. These are used by stores and sporting arenas. They work really well, but they are based on the person carrying the phone with them everywhere.

Xandem has a patented system that tracks people within a building and doesn’t require them to carry something with them. It’s very interesting technology, although I have concerns that if deployed in a home it would interfere with some of the home automation frequencies used for the devices themselves. But it might be interesting to look at.

Other than those two, I think most of the work being done for homes at the present time is based on cameras, including cameras that have facial recognition to track specific people. But then you run into other privacy issues.