Quantifying sway through surface deflection patterns: a novel approach using distributive tactile sensing

Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 2009 Oct;223(7):903-11. doi: 10.1243/09544119JEIM509.


This paper describes an experiment that extends the distributive sensing approach to identify the three-dimensional location of an object in constant motion. Distributive sensing has previously been successful in the identification of size and location of statically placed objects. Here, a novel system is developed to measure balance or sway in patients. The experimental set-up consisted of a pendulum structure positioned on a supported steel plate. Three low-cost deflection sensors were positioned under the plate with the resulting signals used as inputs to a neural network implemented on a field-programmable gate array. The results show that the embedded system can accurately track the pendulum position in real time with a mean tracking error of around 6 per cent in all three dimensions. This evidence indicates that the technique is sufficiently sensitive and could be implemented in a pragmatic configuration for discriminating between balance and sway.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods*
  • Physical Examination / instrumentation*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Touch*
  • Transducers*