Estimation of foot trajectory during human walking by a wearable inertial measurement unit mounted to the foot

Naoki Kitagawa, Naomichi Ogihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


To establish a supportive technology for reducing the risk of falling in older people, it is essential to clarify gait characteristics in elderly individuals that are possibly linked to the risk of falling during actual daily activities. In this study, we developed a system to monitor human gait in an outdoor environment using an inertial measurement unit consisting of a tri-axial accelerometer and tri-axial gyroscope. Step-by-step foot trajectories were estimated from the sensor unit attached to the dorsum of the foot. Specifically, stride length and foot clearance were calculated by integrating the gravity-compensated translational acceleration over time during the swing phase. Zero vertical velocity and displacement corrections were applied to obtain the final trajectory, assuming the slope of the walking surface is negligible. Short, normal, and long stride-length walking of 10 healthy participants was simultaneously measured using the proposed system and a conventional motion capture system to evaluate the accuracy of the estimated foot trajectory. Mean accuracy and precision were approximately 20 ± 50 mm, for stride length, and 2 ± 7 mm for foot clearance, indicating that the swing phase trajectory of the sensor unit attached to the foot was reconstructed more accurately and precisely using the proposed system than with previously published methods owing to the flat floor assumption. Although some methodological limitations certainly apply, this system will serve as a useful tool to monitor human walking during daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-114
Number of pages5
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1


  • Foot clearance
  • Gait analysis
  • Inertial sensor
  • Outdoor environment
  • Step length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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