Estimating three-dimensional orientation of human body parts by inertial/magnetic sensing

Sensors (Basel). 2011;11(2):1489-525. doi: 10.3390/s110201489. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


User-worn sensing units composed of inertial and magnetic sensors are becoming increasingly popular in various domains, including biomedical engineering, robotics, virtual reality, where they can also be applied for real-time tracking of the orientation of human body parts in the three-dimensional (3D) space. Although they are a promising choice as wearable sensors under many respects, the inertial and magnetic sensors currently in use offer measuring performance that are critical in order to achieve and maintain accurate 3D-orientation estimates, anytime and anywhere. This paper reviews the main sensor fusion and filtering techniques proposed for accurate inertial/magnetic orientation tracking of human body parts; it also gives useful recipes for their actual implementation.

Keywords: Kalman filtering; human body motion tracking; inertial/magnetic sensing; quaternion; sensor fusion; strap-down inertial navigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Human Body*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetics / instrumentation*
  • Magnetics / methods*
  • Orientation / physiology*