A recent journey to India brings us a novel application for a laser distance sensor. Even in a part of the world that tends to value the manual efforts of its laborforce, there is a strong recognition for precision, non-contact measurements afforded by the latest in sensor technology. The Center for Rural Development and Technology at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi thoroughly investigated the use of laser displacement sensors to measure the strain of samples during a particular materials testing experiment. Specifically, the Center was tasked with the evaluation of bamboo as a primary construction support material for use in projects in the most rural parts of India. Students within the Mechanical Engineering Department devised an experiment to test the compressive strength of bamboo. Currently in their setup, they were using dial gauges which tended to “jump” as the force was increased during the experiment. The group investigated the laser sensor (Acuity model AR700) to measure the relative movement of two plates that moved together as the sample became compressed. They required a laser sensor with a long standoff so that it would not get harmed if the bamboo failed and shattered. The optoelectronic laser sensor with its analog output permitted the continuous acquisition of the distance output relative to other experimental variables. Below is a video that shows the setup of the experiment. In the footage, the engineer adjusts the load by controlling the speed of a hydraulic piston controlled by an electric motor. The instantaneous position of the sample chuck is indicated on the visual Touch Panel Display.