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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

A Synchronized Multi-Unit Wireless Platform for Long-Term Activity Monitoring

Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, Polytechnic University of Bari, 70126 Bari, Italy
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Electronics 2020, 9(7), 1118; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9071118
Received: 4 May 2020 / Revised: 2 July 2020 / Accepted: 8 July 2020 / Published: 10 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Intelligence in Healthcare)
One of the objectives of the medicine is to modify patients’ ways of living. In this context, a key role is played by the diagnosis. When dealing with acquisition systems consisting of multiple wireless devices located in different parts of the body, it becomes fundamental to ensure synchronization between the individual units. This task is truly a challenge, so one aims to limit the complexity of the calculation and ensure long periods of operation. In fact, in the absence of synchronization, it is impossible to relate all the measurements coming from the different subsystems on a single time scale for the extraction of complex characteristics. In this paper, we first analyze in detail all the possible causes that lead to have a system that is not synchronous and therefore not usable. Then, we propose a firmware implementation strategy and a simple but effective protocol that guarantees perfect synchrony between the devices while keeping computational complexity low. The employed network has a star topology with a master/slave architecture. In this paper a new approach to the synchronization problem is introduced to guarantee a precise but not necessarily accurate synchronization between the units. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed solution, a platform consisting of two different types of units has been designed and built. In particular, a nine Degrees of Freedom (DoF) Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is used in one unit while a nine-DoF IMU and all circuits for the analysis of the superficial Electromyography (sEMG) are present on the other unit. The system is completed by an Android app that acts as a user interface for starting and stopping the logging operations. The paper experimentally demonstrates that the proposed solution overcomes all the limits set out and it guarantees perfect synchronization of the single measurement, even during long-duration acquisitions. In fact, a less than 30 μ s time mismatch has been registered for a 24 h test, and the possibility to perform complex post-processing on the acquired data with a simple and effective system has been proven. View Full-Text
Keywords: IMU; gait analysis; sEMG; long-term monitoring; multi-unit; multi-sensor; time synchronization; Internet of Medical Things; body area network; MIMU IMU; gait analysis; sEMG; long-term monitoring; multi-unit; multi-sensor; time synchronization; Internet of Medical Things; body area network; MIMU
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Coviello, G.; Avitabile, G.; Florio, A. A Synchronized Multi-Unit Wireless Platform for Long-Term Activity Monitoring. Electronics 2020, 9, 1118.

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