The Movesense sensor platform brings new tools for tracking movement and body physiology in research projects.
Movesense is an open sensor development platform from the Finnish sports watch brand Suunto. The platform allows researchers and scientists to tailor research specific functionality to the sensor and collect motion related and physiological field data quickly and cost-effectively.
The tiny, durable lightweight sensor is equipped with 9-axis motion measurement (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetic sensor up to 1,6kHz sampling rate), heart rate, 1-lead ECG and temperature sensors. All sensor data is available via a REST-type API for applications that run in the sensor and on a mobile phone.
The platform includes a software developer kit for programming use case specific sensor applications. This enables processing the sensor data locally before transmitting or storing it to the internal memory of the sensor device.
The transmission of data
The measured data is transmitted from the sensor to a mobile phone or a tablet over a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication. Mobile libraries for iOS and Android and a range of sample apps for data collection and other generic use cases support quick mobile application development.
The actual sensor weighs only 10g and has excellent shock and water resistance, making it very suitable for field use. It’s small enough not to disturb human motion and robust enough to be used in all kinds of conditions.
In addition to the sensor, Suunto is offering a range of accessories to attach the sensor to the place to be tracked, different heart rate electrodes, and other tools to physically integrate the sensors in different ways.
Data of comparable accuracy
As the sensor was developed for consumer use, it’s pricing starts from €39.50 for an order quantity of one piece, it costs only a fraction of industrial or scientific grade sensors but produces data with comparable accuracy.
The low cost brings remarkable savings in device budget of research projects and provides the opportunity to increase the number of research subjects for the same total cost. The fact that the sensor can be re-programmed with new functions in new research projects makes it even more cost-efficient and versatile.
As openness is a leading principle for Suunto with the Movesense initiative, the company decided to leave the cloud connection open. Suunto doesn’t restrict which database or cloud service to use for the collected data.
Innovation is growing at pace
The community of developers around Movesense is growing at pace, and new tools and assets are being published not only by Suunto but also by other community members. This will increase the amount of sample apps and data processing algorithms that further improve the efficiency of the platform for developers and opens new opportunities for the whole developer network.
Less than a year on from the introduction of Movesense developer kit in summer 2017, more than 600 developers are using it in over 30 countries worldwide.
Also the developer kit pricing follows Suunto’s target of low entry barrier – the company is not charging anything extra for using the API and developer tools. You can have a look at the code on Bitbucket (https://bitbucket.org/account/user/suunto/projects/MOVC) and order the physical developer kit at www.movesense.com/shop.
The Suunto approach
The sensor is developed, manufactured and tested in Finland by the sports watch expert Suunto with the same high standards that the company is using for its cutting edge outdoor watches and dive computers.
“We started it first as an internal project to build a new heart rate sensor,” said Terho Lahtinen, one of the team members behind Movesense.
“Our engineers experimented adding a full motion sensing capability to one of the sensor prototypes. We soon realised that this opens a whole new world for sports monitoring and grows far beyond sports and beyond our own business areas.
“At the same time we knew that many companies were searching for suitable hardware to commercialise their own sensor concepts. We thought it would be a shame to keep such a versatile sensor just for ourselves and, after some internal discussion, decided to make it open and invite everyone interested to innovate and turn their own ideas into practice with Movesense.”
Ongoing applications and projects
The variety of on-going projects is astonishing:
- Motion measurement in sports;
- Daily activity tracking for health;
- Combined heart rate and motion measurement;
- Balance measurements of trauma patients;
- Workplace safety;
- Animal tracking;
- Indoor positioning;
- Bluetooth beacon;
- Home automation;
- Patient tracking in pharma development;
- Industrial IoT applications; and
- Smart apparel, amongst others.
A list of published projects and showcases on www.movesense.com is growing at a steady pace as the early adopters are launching their products to market or publishing their research projects.
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This is a commercial article that will appear in SciTech Europa Quarterly issue 27, which will be published in June, 2018.