Validating and calibrating the Nintendo Wii balance board to derive reliable center of pressure measures

Sensors (Basel). 2014 Sep 29;14(10):18244-67. doi: 10.3390/s141018244.


The Nintendo Wii balance board (WBB) has generated significant interest in its application as a postural control measurement device in both the clinical and (basic, clinical, and rehabilitation) research domains. Although the WBB has been proposed as an alternative to the "gold standard" laboratory-grade force plate, additional research is necessary before the WBB can be considered a valid and reliable center of pressure (CoP) measurement device. In this study, we used the WBB and a laboratory-grade AMTI force plate (AFP) to simultaneously measure the CoP displacement of a controlled dynamic load, which has not been done before. A one-dimensional inverted pendulum was displaced at several different displacement angles and load heights to simulate a variety of postural sway amplitudes and frequencies (<1 Hz). Twelve WBBs were tested to address the issue of inter-device variability. There was a significant effect of sway amplitude, frequency, and direction on the WBB's CoP measurement error, with an increase in error as both sway amplitude and frequency increased and a significantly greater error in the mediolateral (ML) (compared to the anteroposterior (AP)) sway direction. There was no difference in error across the 12 WBB's, supporting low inter-device variability. A linear calibration procedure was then implemented to correct the WBB's CoP signals and reduce measurement error. There was a significant effect of calibration on the WBB's CoP signal accuracy, with a significant reduction in CoP measurement error (quantified by root-mean-squared error) from 2-6 mm (before calibration) to 0.5-2 mm (after calibration). WBB-based CoP signal calibration also significantly reduced the percent error in derived (time-domain) CoP sway measures, from -10.5% (before calibration) to -0.05% (after calibration) (percent errors averaged across all sway measures and in both sway directions). In this study, we characterized the WBB's CoP measurement error under controlled, dynamic conditions and implemented a linear calibration procedure for WBB CoP signals that is recommended to reduce CoP measurement error and provide more reliable estimates of time-domain CoP measures. Despite our promising results, additional work is necessary to understand how our findings translate to the clinical and rehabilitation research domains. Once the WBB's CoP measurement error is fully characterized in human postural sway (which differs from our simulated postural sway in both amplitude and frequency content), it may be used to measure CoP displacement in situations where lower accuracy and precision is acceptable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Video Games*