Classification of human physical activity based on raw accelerometry data via spherical coordinate transformation

Michał Kos, Małgorzata Bogdan, Nancy W. Glynn, Jaroslaw Harezlak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Human health is strongly associated with person's lifestyle and levels of physical activity. Therefore, characterization of daily human activity is an important task. Accelerometers have been used to obtain precise measurements of body acceleration. Wearable accelerometers collect data as a three-dimensional time series with frequencies up to 100 Hz. Using such accelerometry signal, we are able to classify different types of physical activity. In our work, we present a novel procedure for physical activity classification based on the raw accelerometry signal. Our proposal is based on the spherical representation of the data. We classify four activity types: resting, upper body activities (sitting), upper body activities (standing), and lower body activities. The classifier is constructed using decision trees with extracted features consisting of spherical coordinates summary statistics, moving averages of the radius and the angles, radius variance, and spherical variance. The classification accuracy of our method has been tested on data collected on a sample of 47 elderly individuals who performed a series of activities in laboratory settings. The achieved classification accuracy is over 90% when the subject-specific data are used and 84% when the group data are used. Main contributor to the classification accuracy is the angular part of the collected signal, especially spherical variance. To the best of our knowledge, spherical variance has never been previously used in the analysis of the raw accelerometry data. Its major advantage over other angular measures is its invariance to the accelerometer location shifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalStatistics in Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • decision trees
  • human activity classification
  • raw accelerometry data
  • spherical coordinate system
  • spherical variance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics and Probability

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