Comparative Analysis of Gait Speed Estimation Using Wideband and Narrowband Radars, Thermal Camera, and Motion Tracking Suit Technologies

Published in Journal of Healthcare Informatics Research, 2020


Research has shown that cognitive and physical functioning of older adults can be reflected in indicators such as walking speed. While changes in cognition, mobility, or health cause changes in gait speed, often gradual variations in walking speed go undetected until severe problems arise. Discrete clinical assessments during clinical consultations often fail to detect changes in day-to-day walking speeds and do not reflect walking speeds in everyday environments, where most of the mobility issues happen. In this paper, we compare four walking speed measurement technologies to a GAITRite mat (gold standard): (1) an ultra wideband radar (covering the band from 3.3 GHz to 10 GHz), (2) a narrow band 24-GHz radar (with a bandwidth of 250 MHz), (3) a perception Neuron Motion Tracking suit, and (4) a thermal camera. Data were collected in parallel using all sensors at the same time for 10 healthy adults for normal and slow walking paces. A comparison of the sensors indicates better performance at lower gait speeds, with offsets (when compared to GAITRite) between 0.1 and 20% for the ultra wideband radar, 1.9 and 17% for the narrowband radar, 0.1 and 38% for the thermal camera, and 1.7 and 38% for the suit. This paper supports the potential of unobtrusive radar-based sensors and thermal camera technologies for ambient autonomous gait speed monitoring for contextual, privacy-preserving monitoring of participants in the community.