Does the Position of Foot-Mounted IMU Sensors Influence the Accuracy of Spatio-Temporal Parameters in Endurance Running?

Sensors (Basel). 2020 Oct 7;20(19):5705. doi: 10.3390/s20195705.


Wearable sensor technology already has a great impact on the endurance running community. Smartwatches and heart rate monitors are heavily used to evaluate runners' performance and monitor their training progress. Additionally, foot-mounted inertial measurement units (IMUs) have drawn the attention of sport scientists due to the possibility to monitor biomechanically relevant spatio-temporal parameters outside the lab in real-world environments. Researchers developed and investigated algorithms to extract various features using IMU data of different sensor positions on the foot. In this work, we evaluate whether the sensor position of IMUs mounted to running shoes has an impact on the accuracy of different spatio-temporal parameters. We compare both the raw data of the IMUs at different sensor positions as well as the accuracy of six endurance running-related parameters. We contribute a study with 29 subjects wearing running shoes equipped with four IMUs on both the left and the right shoes and a motion capture system as ground truth. The results show that the IMUs measure different raw data depending on their position on the foot and that the accuracy of the spatio-temporal parameters depends on the sensor position. We recommend to integrate IMU sensors in a cavity in the sole of a running shoe under the foot's arch, because the raw data of this sensor position is best suitable for the reconstruction of the foot trajectory during a stride.

Keywords: foot kinematics; inertial measurement unit; running; sensor position; sport science; wearable computing; zero velocity update.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Foot*
  • Humans
  • Physical Endurance
  • Running*
  • Shoes*
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*