Respiratory Rate and Flow Waveform Estimation from Tri-axial Accelerometer Data

Andrew Bates, Martin J. Ling, Janek Mann, D.K. Arvind

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


There is a strong medical need for continuous, unobstrusive respiratory monitoring, and many shortcomings to existing methods. Previous work shows that MEMS accelerometers worn on the torso can measure inclination changes due to breathing, from which a respiratory rate can be obtained. There has been limited validation of these methods. The problem of practical continuous monitoring, in which patient movement disrupts the measurements and the axis of interest changes, has also not been addressed. We demonstrate a method based on tri-axial accelerometer data from a wireless sensor device, which tracks the axis of rotation and obtains angular rates of breathing motion. The resulting rates are validated against gyroscope measurements and show high correlation to flow rate measurements using a nasal cannula. We use a movement detection method to classify periods in which the patient is static and breathing signals can be observed accurately. Within these periods we obtain a close match to cannula measurements, for both the flow rate waveform and derived respiratory rates, over multi-hour datasets obtained from wireless sensor devices on hospital patients. We discuss future directions for improvement and potential methods for estimating absolute airflow rate and tidal volume.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBody Sensor Networks (BSN), 2010 International Conference on
Place of PublicationLos Alamitos, CA, USA
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Pages144 -150
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-0-7695-4065-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • accelerometer
  • breathing
  • flow rate
  • nasal cannula
  • respiration
  • respiratory rate

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