Wireless Epidermal Six-Axis Inertial Measurement Units for Real-Time Joint Angle Estimation
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Kyung Hee University, Yongin 17104, Korea
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kyung Hee University, Yongin 17104, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(7), 2240; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10072240
Received: 30 December 2019 / Revised: 13 March 2020 / Accepted: 16 March 2020 / Published: 26 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from IMETI 2018)
Technological advances in wireless communications, miniaturized sensors, and low-power electronics have made it possible to implement integrated wireless body area networks (WBANs). These developments enable the applications of wireless wearable systems for diagnosis, health monitoring, rehabilitation, and dependency care. Across the current range of commercial wearable devices, the products are not firmly fixed to the human body. To minimize data error caused by movement of the human body and to achieve accurate measurements, it is essential to bring the wearable device close to the skin. This paper presents the implementation of a patch-type, six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) with wireless communication technology. The device comprises hard-electronic components on a stretchable elastic substrate for application in epidermal electronics, to collect precise data from the human body. Instead of the commonly used cleanroom processes of implementing devices on a stretchable substrate, a simple and inexpensive “cut-solder-paste” method is adopted to fabricate complex, convoluted interconnections. Thus, the signal distortions in the proposed device can be minimized during various physical activities and skin deformations when used in gait analysis. The inertial sensor data measured from the motion of the body can be sent in real-time via Bluetooth to any processing unit enabled with such a widespread standard wireless interface. For performance evaluation, the implemented device is mounted on a rotation plate in order to compare performance with the conventional product. In addition, an experiment on joint angle estimation is performed by attaching the device to an actual human body. The preliminary results of the device indicate the potential to monitor people in remote settings for applications in mobile health, human-computer interfaces (HCIs), and wearable robots.