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Step length and gait speed estimation using a hearing aid integrated accelerometer: A comparison of different algorithms
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  • Ann-Kristin Seifer ,
  • Arne Küderle ,
  • Eva Dorschky ,
  • Hamid Moradi ,
  • Ronny Hannemann ,
  • Bjoern Eskofier
Ann-Kristin Seifer
Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Arne Küderle
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Eva Dorschky
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Hamid Moradi
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Ronny Hannemann
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Bjoern Eskofier
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Abstract: Gait is an indicator of a person’s health status and abnormal gait patterns are associated with a higher risk of falls, dementia, and mental health disorders. Wearable sensors facilitate long-term assessment of walking in the user’s home environment. Earables, wearable sensors that are worn at the ear, are gaining popularity for digital health assessments because they are unobtrusive and can easily be integrated into the user’s daily routine, for example, in hearing aids. A comprehensive gait analysis pipeline for an ear-worn accelerometer that includes spatial-temporal parameters is currently not existing. Therefore, we propose and compare three algorithmic approaches to estimate step length and gait speed based on ear-worn accelerometer data: a biomechanical model, feature-based machine learn- ing (ML) models, and a convolutional neural network. We evaluated their performance on a step and walking bout level and compared it with an optical motion capture system. The feature-based ML model achieved the best performance with a precision of 4.8 cm on a walking bout level. For gait speed, the machine learning approach achieved an absolute percentage error of 5.3% (± 3.9%). We find that the ML model is able to estimate step length and gait speed with clinically relevant precision. Furthermore, the model is insensitive to different age groups and sampling rates but sensitive to walking speed. To our knowledge, this work is the first contribution to estimating step length and gait speed using ear-worn accelerometers. Moreover, it lays the foundation for a comprehensive gait analysis framework for ear-worn sensors enabling continuous and long-term monitoring at home.