On motions that allow for identification of hinge joint axes from kinematic constraints and 6D IMU data

Danny Nowka, Manon Kok, Thomas Seel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


In inertial motion tracking of kinematic chains, inertial measurement units (IMUs) are attached to each segment in order to track their motion in three-dimensional space. Determining the relations between the functional axes of a joint and the local coordinate system of the attached sensor is a crucial requirement. For the case of hinge joints, methods have been proposed that exploit kinematic constraints to automatically identify the local hinge joint axis coordinates from the raw data of almost arbitrary motions. However, to current date, it remains unclear which joint motions are sufficiently rich for the joint axis to become identifiable. We consider a commonly used gyroscope-based kinematic constraint and present a novel accelerometer-based kinematic constraint. We study conditions of identifiability by analyzing the nonlinear constraint equations and present practical conditions for the minimum excitation that is required. Among other results, we prove that planar motions and subsequent motions of both ends of the joint are sufficient as long as the joint axis does not remain perfectly horizontal. Theoretical results are validated in experimental studies of a human upper limb wearing an exoskeleton. Despite the typical IMU-related measurement inaccuracies and although the human elbow joint is only an approximate hinge joint, the cost function defined by the kinematic constraints exhibits a distinct global minimum at the true joint axis coordinates if the motion fulfills the proposed requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th European Control Conference (ECC 2019)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ, USA
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-907144-00-8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventECC 2019: 18th European Control Conference - Napoli, Italy
Duration: 25 Jun 201928 Jun 2019


ConferenceECC 2019: 18th European Control Conference

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