DOI: 10.3390/s24010214 ISSN: 1424-8220

Benchmarking of Sensor Configurations and Measurement Sites for Out-of-the-Lab Photoplethysmography

Max Nobre Supelnic, Afonso Fortes Ferreira, Patrícia Justo Bota, Luís Brás-Rosário, Hugo Plácido da Silva
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Analytical Chemistry

Photoplethysmography (PPG) is used for heart-rate monitoring in a variety of contexts and applications due to its versatility and simplicity. These applications, namely studies involving PPG data acquisition during day-to-day activities, require reliable and continuous measurements, which are often performed at the index finger or wrist. However, some PPG sensors are susceptible to saturation, motion artifacts, and discomfort upon their use. In this paper, an off-the-shelf PPG sensor was benchmarked and modified to improve signal saturation. Moreover, this paper explores the feasibility of using an optimized sensor in the lower limb as an alternative measurement site. Data were collected from 28 subjects with ages ranging from 18 to 59 years. To validate the sensors’ performance, signal saturation and quality, wave morphology, performance of automatic systolic peak detection, and heart-rate estimation, were compared. For the upper and lower limb locations, the index finger and the first toe were used as reference locations, respectively. Lowering the amplification stage of the PPG sensor resulted in a significant reduction in signal saturation, from 18% to 0.5%. Systolic peak detection at rest using an automatic algorithm showed a sensitivity and precision of 0.99 each. The posterior wrist and upper arm showed pulse wave morphology correlations of 0.93 and 0.92, respectively. For these locations, peak detection sensitivity and precision were 0.95, 0.94 and 0.89, 0.89, respectively. Overall, the adjusted PPG sensors are a good alternative for obtaining high-quality signals at the fingertips, and for new measurement sites, the posterior pulse and the upper arm allow for high-quality signal extraction.

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