Wrist accelerometer shape feature derivation methods for assessing activities of daily living

Matin Kheirkhahan, Avirup Chakraborty, Amal A. Wanigatunga, Duane B. Corbett, Todd M. Manini, Sanjay Ranka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There has been an increasing interest in understanding the usefulness of wrist-based accelerometer data for physical activity (PA) assessment due to the ease of use and higher user compliance than other body placements. PA assessment studies have relied on machine learning methods which take accelerometer data in forms of variables, or feature vectors. Methods: In this work, we introduce automated shape feature derivation methods to transform epochs of accelerometer data into feature vectors. As the first step, recurring patterns in the collected data are identified and placed in a codebook. Similarities between epochs of accelerometer data and codebook's patterns are the basis of feature calculations. In this paper, we demonstrate supervised and unsupervised approaches to learn codebooks. We evaluated these methods and compared them with the standard statistical measures for PA assessment. The experiments were performed on 146 participants who wore an ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer on the right wrist and performed 33 activities of daily living. Results: Our evaluations show that the shape feature derivation methods were able to perform comparably with the standard wrist model (F1-score: 0.89) for identifying sedentary PAs (F1-scores of 0.86 and 0.85 for supervised and unsupervised methods, respectively). This was also observed for identifying locomotion activities (F1-scores: 0.87, 0.83, and 0.81 for the standard wrist, supervised, unsupervised models, respectively). All the wrist models were able to estimate energy expenditure required for PAs with low error (rMSE: 0.90, 0.93, and 0.90 for the standard wrist, supervised, and unsupervised models, respectively). Conclusion: The automated shape feature derivation methods offer insights into the performed activities by providing a summary of repeating patterns in the accelerometer data. Furthermore, they could be used as efficient alternatives (or additions) for manually engineered features, especially important for cases where the latter fail to provide sufficient information to machine learning methods for PA assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124
JournalBMC medical informatics and decision making
StatePublished - Dec 12 2018


  • ActiGraph
  • Bag of words
  • Big data
  • Energy expenditure
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics


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