Wireless GPS-based phase-locked synchronization system for outdoor environment

J Biomech. 2012 Jan 3;45(1):188-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.09.014. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Synchronization of data coming from different sources is of high importance in biomechanics to ensure reliable analyses. This synchronization can either be performed through hardware to obtain perfect matching of data, or post-processed digitally. Hardware synchronization can be achieved using trigger cables connecting different devices in many situations; however, this is often impractical, and sometimes impossible in outdoors situations. The aim of this paper is to describe a wireless system for outdoor use, allowing synchronization of different types of - potentially embedded and moving - devices. In this system, each synchronization device is composed of: (i) a GPS receiver (used as time reference), (ii) a radio transmitter, and (iii) a microcontroller. These components are used to provide synchronized trigger signals at the desired frequency to the measurement device connected. The synchronization devices communicate wirelessly, are very lightweight, battery-operated and thus very easy to set up. They are adaptable to every measurement device equipped with either trigger input or recording channel. The accuracy of the system was validated using an oscilloscope. The mean synchronization error was found to be 0.39 μs and pulses are generated with an accuracy of <2 μs. The system provides synchronization accuracy about two orders of magnitude better than commonly used post-processing methods, and does not suffer from any drift in trigger generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electric Power Supplies*
  • Environment*
  • Geographic Information Systems / instrumentation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Wireless Technology / instrumentation*