An Open-Source Monitor-Independent Movement Summary for Accelerometer Data Processing

in Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour
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  • 1 Northeastern University
  • 2 QMedic Medical Alert Systems
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Background: Physical behavior researchers using motion sensors often use acceleration summaries to visualize, clean, and interpret data. Such output is dependent on device specifications (e.g., dynamic range, sampling rate) and/or are proprietary, which invalidate cross-study comparison of findings when using different devices. This limits flexibility in selecting devices to measure physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep. Purpose: Develop an open-source, universal acceleration summary metric that accounts for discrepancies in raw data among research and consumer devices. Methods: We used signal processing techniques to generate a Monitor-Independent Movement Summary unit (MIMS-unit) optimized to capture normal human motion. Methodological steps included raw signal harmonization to eliminate inter-device variability (e.g., dynamic g-range, sampling rate), bandpass filtering (0.2–5.0 Hz) to eliminate non-human movement, and signal aggregation to reduce data to simplify visualization and summarization. We examined the consistency of MIMS-units using orbital shaker testing on eight accelerometers with varying dynamic range (±2 to ±8 g) and sampling rates (20–100 Hz), and human data (N = 60) from an ActiGraph GT9X. Results: During shaker testing, MIMS-units yielded lower between-device coefficient of variations than proprietary ActiGraph and ENMO acceleration summaries. Unlike the widely used ActiGraph activity counts, MIMS-units were sensitive in detecting subtle wrist movements during sedentary behaviors. Conclusions: Open-source MIMS-units may provide a means to summarize high-resolution raw data in a device-independent manner, thereby increasing standardization of data cleaning and analytical procedures to estimate selected attributes of physical behavior across studies.

John is with the Bouve College of Health Sciences; Tang and Intille are with the Khoury College of Computer Science; Northeastern University, Boston, MA. Albinali is with QMedic Medical Alert Systems, Boston, MA.

John ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Figure 1 (PDF 432 KB)
    • Supplementary Figure 2 (PDF 479 KB)
    • Supplementary Figure 3 (PDF 420 KB)
    • Supplementary Figure 4 (PDF 438 KB)
    • Supplementary Figure 5 (PDF 361 KB)
    • Supplementary Table 1 (PDF 159 KB)
    • Supplementary Table 2 (PDF 156 KB)
    • Supplementary Table 3 (PDF 12 KB)