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Stretchable Electronic Wearable Motion Sensors Delineate Signatures of Human Motion Tasks

Garlant, Jacob, A.*; Ammann, Kaitlyn, R.; Slepian, Marvin, J.

doi: 10.1097/MAT.0000000000000784
Biomedical Engineering
Conference Article

Digital tracking of human motion offers the potential to monitor a wide range of activities detecting normal versus abnormal performance of tasks. We examined the ability of a wearable, conformal sensor system, fabricated from stretchable electronics with contained accelerometers and gyroscopes, to specifically detect, monitor, and define motion signals and “signatures,” associated with tasks of daily living activities. The sensor system was affixed to the dominant hand of healthy volunteers (n = 4) who then completed four tasks. For all tasks examined, motion data could be captured, monitored continuously, uploaded to the digital cloud, and stored for further analysis. Acceleration and gyroscope data were collected in the x-, y-, and z-axes, yielding unique patterns of component motion signals for each task studied. Upon analysis, low-frequency (<10 Hz) tasks (walking, drinking from a mug, and opening a pill bottle) showed low intersubject variability (<0.3g difference) and low interrepetition variability (<0.1g difference) when comparing the acceleration of each axis for a single task. High-frequency (≥10 Hz) activity (brushing teeth) yielded low intersubject variability of peak frequencies in acceleration of each axis. Each motion task was readily distinguishable and identifiable (with ≥70% accuracy) by independent observers from motion signatures alone, without the need for direct visual observation. Stretchable electronic technologies offer the potential to provide wireless capture, tracking, and analysis of detailed directional components of motion for a wide range of individual activities and functional status.

From the *Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Departments of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

Submitted for consideration June 2017; accepted for publication in revised form February 2018.

Disclosure: The authors have received research support from MC10, Inc.

This study was supported, in part, by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cardiovascular Biomedical Engineering Training Grant T32 HL007955, and by general grant through the University of Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation.

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Correspondence: Marvin J. Slepian, University of Arizona, 1501 N. Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85724. Email:

Copyright © 2018 by the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs