Design and Implementation of an Ultra-Low Resource Electrodermal Activity Sensor for Wearable Applications

Sensors (Basel). 2019 May 29;19(11):2450. doi: 10.3390/s19112450.


While modern low-power microcontrollers are a cornerstone of wearable physiological sensors, their limited on-chip storage typically makes peripheral storage devices a requirement for long-term physiological sensing-significantly increasing both size and power consumption. Here, a wearable biosensor system capable of long-term recording of physiological signals using a single, 64 kB microcontroller to minimize sensor size and improve energy performance is described. Electrodermal (EDA) signals were sampled and compressed using a multiresolution wavelet transformation to achieve long-term storage within the limited memory of a 16-bit microcontroller. The distortion of the compressed signal and errors in extracting common EDA features is evaluated across 253 independent EDA signals acquired from human volunteers. At a compression ratio (CR) of 23.3×, the root mean square error (RMSErr) is below 0.016 μ S and the percent root-mean-square difference (PRD) is below 1%. Tonic EDA features are preserved at a CR = 23.3× while phasic EDA features are more prone to reconstruction errors at CRs > 8.8×. This compression method is shown to be competitive with other compressive sensing-based approaches for EDA measurement while enabling on-board access to raw EDA data and efficient signal reconstructions. The system and compression method provided improves the functionality of low-resource microcontrollers by limiting the need for external memory devices and wireless connectivity to advance the miniaturization of wearable biosensors for mobile applications.

Keywords: biosensor; data compression; electrodermal; low-resource; signal processing; wearable.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Data Compression
  • Galvanic Skin Response*
  • Humans
  • Prosthesis Design*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Wavelet Analysis
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*