This paper contains theoretical and experimental results of controlling cantilever beams using distributed sensors. Shape functions for custom-made sensors are derived which allow for the identification and measurement of the states of a distributed system. This proposed technique allows for the direct identification of single-input single-output and multi-input multi-output system models as well as the implementation of full state feedback controllers without state estimation. Simple analog hardware circuits suffice to implement full state feedback controllers. System models can be identified quickly from time domain data for on-line controller adaptation. The suggested system identification method has the capacity to model only the modes of interest without relying on model reduction techniques.