In spite of its potential, structural health monitoring is rarely utilized on real civil structures. The main reason for this is the cost and limited reliability achievable by current monitoring technologies. The sensors currently available must be sparsely spaced and either provide severely insufficient spatial-resolution for early damage detection or rely on complex algorithms that degrade specificity against practical environmental and variable-load conditions. The objectives of this research are twofold: (1) to investigate a sensing-system principle that provides low-cost monitoring through a dense and expansive array of sensors enabled by a technology called large-area electronics; and (2) to experimentally study how the high-resolution sensing offered by such a system can overcome the robustness and reliability limitations affecting current SHM technologies. A novel sensing approach based on dense arrays of sensors possible through large-area electronics is being developed and tested. The primary concepts related to structural sensing are presented in this paper along with preliminary test results. These demonstrate that the proposed technology and direct sensing approach are beneficial for both reliable and low-cost damage detection, as well as the localization of damage over large areas of a structure.