Review of Recent Patents on Wearable Movement Sensors



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Review of Recent Patents on Wearable Movement Sensors

Author(s): Mateo Aboy, James McNames and Cristina Crespo

Affiliation: Electrical Engineering, Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland, OR, 97006.

Abstract

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.

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.

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Article Details

Volume: 6
Issue Number: 2
First Page: 82
Last Page: 88
Page Count: 7
DOI: 10.2174/1874764711306020002
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