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Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D.

Thesis University of Limerick, 2007



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Kinematic Sensors
1 The Accelerometer
As its name implies, an accelerometer measures acceleration. Due to the presence of
gravitational acceleration an accelerometer detects acceleration even when stationary and
actually measures zero acceleration when in freefall. Considering this an accelerometer may
be described as a sensor that measures deviations from freefall.

A uni-axial accelerometer measures the sum of the inertial acceleration component and
gravitational acceleration component acting along its measuring axis. Fig. 1 shows a uni-axial
accelerometer attached to a segment, with an inertial acceleration of
I
a .


Fig. 1 Uni-axial accelerometer attached to a segment

Eq. (1) is a mathematical model which relates the total measured acceleration,
x
a , of a single
axis accelerometer to the accelerations acting on the device.
Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D. Thesis University of Limerick, 2007

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) cos( ) cos( | u g a a
I x
+ = (1)
where
x
a is the magnitude of the acceleration vector component acting along the measuring axis
of the accelerometer
I
a is the magnitude of the inertial acceleration of the segment
u is the inclination of the measuring axis with respect to the inertial acceleration vector
g is the magnitude of the gravitational acceleration
| is the inclination of the measuring axis with respect to the vertical axis (gravity vector)

A bi-axial accelerometer is formed by two right angled measuring axes. A 2-dimensional
acceleration vector is obtained from a bi-axial accelerometer. The acceleration measured by a
bi-axial accelerometer written in array format is given by Eq. (2).

( ) ( )
( ) ( )
y y I
x x I
y
x
g a
g a
a
a
a
| u
| u
cos cos
cos cos

+
+
= = (2)


Fig. 2 Bi-axial accelerometer attached to a segment under static conditions
Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D. Thesis University of Limerick, 2007

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Fig. 2 shows a bi-axial accelerometer attached to a segment, under static conditions. Under
static conditions there is no inertial acceleration component and the measured acceleration
vector for a bi-axial accelerometer is given by Eq. (3).

( )
( ) |
|
sin
cos

g
g
a
a
a
y
x
= = (3)

Under static conditions a bi-axial accelerometer can thus be used to determine the inclination
of a segment with respect to the gravity vector using Eq. (4).

|
|
.
|

\
|
=

x
y
a
a
1
tan | (4)

A tri-axial accelerometer is formed by three orthogonal uni-axial accelerometers. A 3-
dimensional acceleration vector is obtained from a tri-axial accelerometer. The acceleration
measured by a tri-axial accelerometer written in array format is given by Eq. (5).

( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
z z I
y y I
x x I
z
y
x
g a
g a
g a
a
a
a
a
| u
| u
| u
cos cos
cos cos
cos cos

+
+
+
= = (5)

2 The Rate Gyroscope
A rate gyroscope measures angular velocity. A uni-axial rate gyroscope measures the angular
velocity acting along its measuring axis. Fig. 3 shows a uni-axial gyroscope attached to a
rotating plate, rotating with angular velocity e .
Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D. Thesis University of Limerick, 2007

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Fig. 3 Uni-axial rate gyroscope attached to a rotating plate

Eq. (6) is a mathematical model which relates the measured angular velocity of the single axis
rate gyroscope to the angular velocity acting on the device.
( ) | e e cos =
x
(6)
where
x
e is the magnitude of the angular velocity vector component along the measuring axis of
the rate gyroscope
| is the inclination of the measuring axis with respect to the angular velocity vector
e is the magnitude of the angular velocity acting on the sensor

A tri-axial rate gyroscope is formed by three orthogonal uni-axial rate gyroscopes. A 3-
dimensional angular velocity vector is obtained from a tri-axial rate gyroscope. The angular
velocity measured by a tri-axial rate gyroscope written in array format is given by Eq. (7).

( )
( )
( )
z
y
x
z
y
x
| e
| e
| e
e
e
e
e
cos
cos
cos
= = (7)

Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D. Thesis University of Limerick, 2007

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3 The Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a sensor which is used to measure the direction and/or the strength of a
magnetic field. A uni-axial magnetometer measures the magnetic field vector acting along its
measuring axis. Fig. 4 shows a uni-axial magnetometer attached to a body segment.

Fig. 4 Uni-axial magnetometer attached to a body segment

Eq. 8 is a mathematical model which relates the measured angular velocity of the single axis
rate gyroscope to the angular velocity acting on the device.
( ) o cos m m
x
= (8)
where
x
m is the magnitude of the magnetic field vector component along the measuring axis of
the magnetometer
o is the inclination of the magnetometer measuring axis with respect to the magnetic
field vector

Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D. Thesis University of Limerick, 2007

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A tri-axial rate magnetometer is formed by three orthogonal uni-axial magnetometers. A 3-
dimensional magnetic field vector is obtained from a tri-axial magnetometer. The magnetic
field measured by a tri-axial magnetometer written in array format is given by Eq. (9).

( )
( )
( )
z
y
x
z
y
x
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
o
o
o
cos
cos
cos
= = (9)

4 The Kinematic Sensor Signal
A standard definition for the description of a uni-axial kinematic sensor output y, as a function
of the vector component x directed along the sensor sensitivity axis is given by Eq. (10).
b kx y + = (10)
where
k is the sensor scale factor
b is the sensor offset bias

Ideal three-axis kinematic sensors are composed of three mutually orthogonal uni-axial
sensors. Misalignment may occur due to sensor axes not being exactly mutually orthogonal
and also the fact that the actual sensitivity axis of each sensor may not match exactly the
assumed sensitivity axis when the sensor unit is placed in casing. The presence of
misalignment makes it necessary to describe the actual orientation of the sensitivity axis of
each sensor with respect to the assumed orientation of the sensitivity axis in the form of a
misalignment matrix R. A standard definition for the description of a tri-axial kinematic
sensor output vector y , as a function of the measured component vector x is given by Eq.
(11) [1].
Karol J ODonovan, Ph.D. Thesis University of Limerick, 2007

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vii
b x R K y

+ = (11)

where
(
(
(

=
z
y
x
y
y
y
y is the tri-axial sensor output vector
(
(
(

=
z
y
x
x
x
x
x is the tri-axial measured component vector
(
(
(

=
z
y
x
g
b
b
b
b

is the sensor offset bias


(
(
(

=
z
y
x
k
k
k
K
0 0
0 0
0 0
is the diagonal matrix of the scale factors of the three sensor axes
(
(
(

=
z z y z x z
z y y y x y
z x y x x x
r r r
r r r
r r r
R
' ' '
' ' '
' ' '
is the misalignment matrix describing the actual sensitivity axis
with respect to the assumed sensitivity axis


References

[1] Ferraris F, Grimaldi U, and Parvis M. Procedure for effortless in-field calibration of
three-axis rate gyros and accelerometers. Sensors and Materials 1995; 7: 311-30.