A wearable biosensing system with in-sensor adaptive machine learning for hand gesture recognition


Wearable devices that monitor muscle activity based on surface electromyography could be of use in the development of hand gesture recognition applications. Such devices typically use machine-learning models, either locally or externally, for gesture classification. However, most devices with local processing cannot offer training and updating of the machine-learning model during use, resulting in suboptimal performance under practical conditions. Here we report a wearable surface electromyography biosensing system that is based on a screen-printed, conformal electrode array and has in-sensor adaptive learning capabilities. Our system implements a neuro-inspired hyperdimensional computing algorithm locally for real-time gesture classification, as well as model training and updating under variable conditions such as different arm positions and sensor replacement. The system can classify 13 hand gestures with 97.12% accuracy for two participants when training with a single trial per gesture. A high accuracy (92.87%) is preserved on expanding to 21 gestures, and accuracy is recovered by 9.5% by implementing model updates in response to varying conditions, without additional computation on an external device.

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Fig. 1: Wearable biosensing system for sEMG.
Fig. 2: Hand gesture classes used in the study and sEMG recording characteristics.
Fig. 3: Hyperdimensional computing algorithm for projecting windows of sEMG data into hypervectors.
Fig. 4: AM operations for training, accessing and contextual updating.
Fig. 5: Real-time, in-sensor classification performance in the baseline context.
Fig. 6: In-sensor training, update and classification results.

Data availability

Both the offline sEMG dataset and the real-time experiment data collected for this study are available at https://github.com/flexemg/flexemg_natelec. NinaPro data were accessed via http://ninapro.hevs.ch (Dataset 4) and CapgMyo data via http://zju-capg.org/myo/data/ (DB-c).

Code availability

The source code used for offline model validation, in-sensor implementation and analysis of results is available at https://github.com/flexemg/flexemg_natelec.


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We thank E. Alon, A. Araujo, R. Muller, K. Lutz, H. Wu, M. Sadeghi, Cortera Neurotechnologies and Novacentrix. This work was supported in part by the CONIX Research Center, one of six centres in JUMP, a Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) programme sponsored by DARPA. This material is based, in part, on research sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory under agreement no. FA8650-15-2-5401, as conducted through the flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing innovation institute, NextFlex. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of Air Force Research Laboratory or the US Government. This research used the Savio computational cluster resource provided by the Berkeley Research Computing program at the University of California, Berkeley. Support was also received from sponsors of Berkeley Wireless Research Center, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under grant no. 1106400, ETH Zurich Postdoctoral Fellowship programme and the Marie Curie Actions for People COFUND Program.

Author information




A. Moin, A.Z., A. Menon, S.B., G.A., S.T., J.T., N.Y., Y.K. and F.B. designed the hardware. A. Moin, A.Z. and A.R. developed and implemented the learning algorithm. A. Moin and A.Z. performed the experiments and analysis. L.B., A.C.A. and J.M.R. oversaw the project. A. Moin, A.Z., A.C.A. and J.M.R. wrote and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ali Moin or Jan M. Rabaey.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–5, Figs. 1–7 and Tables 1–5.

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Supplementary Video

Electrode array fabrication process, wearing the device, training and inference for hand gestures in action.

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Moin, A., Zhou, A., Rahimi, A. et al. A wearable biosensing system with in-sensor adaptive machine learning for hand gesture recognition. Nat Electron (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-020-00510-8

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