, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 541-550
Date: 20 Feb 2010

Unobtrusive physiological monitoring in an airplane seat

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Air travel has become the preferred mode of long-distance transportation for most of the world’s travelers. People of every age group and health status are traveling by airplane and thus the airplane has become part of our environment, in which people with health-related limitations need assistive support. Since the main interaction point between a passenger and the airplane is the seat, this work presents a smart airplane seat for measuring health-related signals of a passenger. We describe the design, implementation and testing of a multimodal sensor system integrated into the seat. The presented system is able to measure physiological signals, such as electrocardiogram, electrodermal activity, skin temperature, and respiration. We show how the design of the smart seat system is influenced by the trade-off between comfort and signal quality, i.e. incorporating unobtrusive sensors and dealing with erroneous signals. Artifact detection through sensor fusion is presented and the working principle is shown with a feasibility study, in which normal passenger activities were performed. Based on the presented method, we are able to identify signal regions in which the accuracies for detecting the heart- and respiration-rate are 88 and 82%, respectively, compared to 40 and 76% without any artifact removal.