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Open AccessArticle

An Online Method to Detect and Locate an External Load on the Human Body with Applications in Ergonomics Assessment

1
1HRI2 Laboratory, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, 16163 Genoa, Italy
2
Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2020, 20(16), 4471; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20164471
Received: 6 July 2020 / Revised: 5 August 2020 / Accepted: 7 August 2020 / Published: 10 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Design and Integration of Wearable Sensors for Ergonomics)
In this work, we propose an online method to detect and approximately locate an external load induced on the body of a person interacting with the environment. The method is based on a torque equilibrium condition on the human sagittal plane, which takes into account a reduced-complexity model of the whole-body centre of pressure (CoP) along with the measured one, and the vertical component of the ground reaction forces (vGRFs). The latter is combined with a statistical analysis approach to improve the localisation accuracy, (which is subject to uncertainties) to the extent of the industrial applications we target. The proposed technique eliminates the assumption of known contact position of an external load on the human limbs, allowing a more flexible online body-state tracking. The accuracy of the proposed method is first evaluated via a simulation study in which various contact points on different body postures are considered. Next, experiments on human subjects with three different contact locations applied to the human body are presented, revealing the validity of the proposed methodology. Lastly, its benefit in the estimation of human dynamic states is demonstrated. These results add another layer to the online human ergonomics assessment framework developed in our laboratory, extending it to more realistic and varying interaction conditions.
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Keywords: novel methods and systems for integrated ergonomic assessment; monitoring human-environment interaction; health monitoring in working environments novel methods and systems for integrated ergonomic assessment; monitoring human-environment interaction; health monitoring in working environments
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lorenzini, M.; Kim, W.; De Momi, E.; Ajoudani, A. An Online Method to Detect and Locate an External Load on the Human Body with Applications in Ergonomics Assessment. Sensors 2020, 20, 4471.

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