This paper presents two approaches to assess the effect of the number of inertial sensors and their location placements on recognition of human postures and activities. Inertial and Magnetic Measurement Units (IMMUs)—which consist of a triad of three-axis accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope, and three-axis magnetometer sensors—are used in this work. Five IMMUs are initially used and attached to different body segments. Placements of up to three IMMUs are then considered: back, left foot, and left thigh. The subspace k-nearest neighbors (KNN) classifier is used to achieve the supervised learning process and the recognition task. In a first approach, we feed raw data from three-axis accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope into the classifier without any filtering or pre-processing, unlike what is usually reported in the state-of-the-art where statistical features were computed instead. Results show the efficiency of this method for the recognition of the studied activities and postures. With the proposed algorithm, more than 80% of the activities and postures are correctly classified using one IMMU, placed on the lower back, left thigh, or left foot location, and more than 90% when combining all three placements. In a second approach, we extract attitude, in term of quaternion, from IMMUs in order to more precisely achieve the recognition process. The obtained accuracy results are compared to those obtained when only raw data is exploited. Results show that the use of attitude significantly improves the performance of the classifier, especially for certain specific activities. In that case, it was further shown that using a smaller number of features, with quaternion, in the recognition process leads to a lower computation time and better accuracy.
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