Unobtrusive assessment of walking speed in the home using inexpensive PIR sensors

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009:2009:7248-51. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2009.5334746.


Walking speed and activity are important measures of functional ability in the elderly. Our earlier studies have suggested that continuous monitoring may allow us to detect changes in walking speed that are also predictive of cognitive changes. We evaluated the use of passive infrared (PIR) sensors for measuring walking speed in the home on an ongoing basis. In comparisons with gait mat estimates (ground truth) and the results of a timed walk test (the clinical gold standard) in 18 subjects, we found that the clinical measure overestimated typical walking speed, and the PIR sensor estimations of walking speed were highly correlated to actual gait speed. Examination of in-home walking patterns from more than 100,000 walking speed samples for these subjects suggested that we can accurately assess walking speed in the home. We discuss the potential of this approach for continuous assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods
  • Telemetry / instrumentation
  • Telemetry / methods
  • Walking / physiology*