Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 541–550 | Cite as

Unobtrusive physiological monitoring in an airplane seat

  • Johannes Schumm
  • Cornelia Setz
  • Marc Bächlin
  • Marcel Bächler
  • Bert Arnrich
  • Gerhard Tröster
Original Article


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.


Unobtrusive physiological monitoring Physiological signal quality Airplane seat ECG EDA Respiration 



This project is funded by the EU research project SEAT (, contract number: 030958, all views here reflect the author’s opinion and not that of the commission. The authors would like to thank Urs Egger who supported the technical part of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Schumm
    • 1
  • Cornelia Setz
    • 1
  • Marc Bächlin
    • 1
  • Marcel Bächler
    • 1
  • Bert Arnrich
    • 1
  • Gerhard Tröster
    • 1
  1. 1.Electronics LaboratoryETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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