A Survey on Activity Detection and Classification Using Wearable Sensors

Maria Cornacchia, Koray Ozcan, Yu Zheng, Senem Velipasalar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Activity detection and classification are very important for autonomous monitoring of humans for applications, including assistive living, rehabilitation, and surveillance. Wearable sensors have found wide-spread use in recent years due to their ever-decreasing cost, ease of deployment and use, and ability to provide continuous monitoring as opposed to sensors installed at fixed locations. Since many smart phones are now equipped with a variety of sensors, such as accelerometer, gyroscope, and camera, it has become more feasible to develop activity monitoring algorithms employing one or more of these sensors with increased accessibility. We provide a complete and comprehensive survey on activity classification with wearable sensors, covering a variety of sensing modalities, including accelerometer, gyroscope, pressure sensors, and camera-and depth-based systems. We discuss differences in activity types tackled by this breadth of sensing modalities. For example, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer systems have a history of addressing whole body motion or global type activities, whereas camera systems provide the context necessary to classify local interactions, or interactions of individuals with objects. We also found that these single sensing modalities laid the foundation for hybrid works that tackle a mix of global and local interaction-Type activities. In addition to the type of sensors and type of activities classified, we provide details on each wearable system that include on-body sensor location, employed learning approach, and extent of experimental setup. We further discuss where the processing is performed, i.e., local versus remote processing, for different systems. This is one of the first surveys to provide such breadth of coverage across different wearable sensor systems for activity classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7742959
Pages (from-to)386-403
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2017


  • Wearable
  • activity classification
  • activity detection
  • monitoring
  • sensors
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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