Inertial Sensors: A Solution for Multiple Challenges

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Alexandre Tornero Viñas

During the last decade there has been an important development in a set of systems capable of measuring an increasing number of heterogeneous features. Among them we can find activity recognition, as level of sedentary behaviour or sleep quality, fall detection in the elderly, training improvement in sports or the detection of risk events in patients. Traditionally, these measurements have been exclusively performed by an expert person, introducing uncertainty, inaccuracy and subjectivity. Taking this into account, providing a tool for the objective and accurate measurement of all these activities becomes necessary. The solutions for all these problems are as diverse as the mentioned problems themselves. Providing a solution that is flexible, comfortable and capable of facing jointly this kind of problems is a challenge nowadays.
In that sense, inertial sensors, devices capable of measuring acceleration and rotation speed, arise as an optimal solution thanks to the advance in microelectronics achieved in the last years, making these sensors cheap, light and small devices. These sensors are frequently encapsulated in IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units) that usually include temperature or pressure sensors. Due to their low power necessities, they have a reasonable autonomy, even when they use wireless communication. This, added to their small size, makes possible to integrate them in everyday objects, such as clothing, allowing the constant monitoring of physical magnitudes like acceleration, rotation speed, temperature, etc. Additionally, thanks to the measured parameters, that allow the development of positioning systems, movement or events detection, they have a wide range of applications, enabling flexible, inexpensive and minimally invasive solutions.
Gradiant sees in these technologies a great opportunity for their application in such different areas as Health, Aeronautics, Sports or Safety. Thus, a great interest is kept in this line, through the development of several projects, taking advantage of its experience in sensor networks, advanced signal processing and pattern recognition.