Review of Recent Patents on Wearable Movement Sensors
Mateo Aboy, James McNames and Cristina Crespo
Affiliation: Electrical Engineering, Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland, OR, 97006.
Keywords: Actigraphers, activity monitoring, inertial measurement units (IMUs), inertial sensors, orientation measurement
unit (OMUs), movement sensors, motion capture, movement disorders, robust wireless data transfer, wearable sensors.
Advances in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), solid-state, wireless, and battery technologies have
made possible the development of a new generation of portable, low-power, wireless, and high-capacity movement
sensors with significant potential in a variety of medical applications. This article includes a review of recent patents
focused on novel wearable movement sensors appropriate for biomedical applications involving motion capture, activity
recognition, and objective analysis of movement disorders. The paper focuses on the technical challenges associated with
the hardware design of these devices in the context of movement disorders, and the solutions disclosed in patents and
patent applications. Additionally, the paper provides a discussion of future developments and the outstanding technical
challenges that would need to be overcome for the widespread use of movement sensors in research and clinical settings.
Our patent search revealed that a total of 958 issued patents and 664 patent applications have been published by the
United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in subclass US600/595 (body monitoring). Since 2007, 34 patents
were issued and 342 patent applications were published (378 patent publications) in this subclass, indicating that nearly
25% of the patented or patent pending developments in movement monitoring occurred in the last 3.5 years. Despite the
significant developments in this area, none of the patent publications analyzed disclosed wearable movement sensors that
overcome some of the most significant technical challenges such as the problem of wireless synchronization of sampling
times among multiple sensors. Consequently, valuable intellectual property remains to be developed and claimed in future
patents in this technical field.
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