Sensors get clever: AI revolutionises fitness tracking - The EE

Sensors get clever: AI revolutionises fitness tracking

Squats, crunches or kettlebell swings: The list of fitness exercises available nowadays is almost endless. Many fitness trackers or smartwatches, however, offer only a very limited number of activities that can be tracked and do not recognise activities reliably due to different performance styles, equipment, heights and energy levels of users.

To solve such problems, Bosch Sensortec has developed a revolutionary self-learning motion sensor that adds Artificial Intelligence (AI) to portable devices: the BHI260AP self-learning AI sensor.

The sensor enables manufacturers of wearable and hearable devices to provide highly personalised fitness tracking through self-learning AI software in the sensor. It recognises and adapts to a wide variety of movements and is able to learn any new fitness activity that is based on repetitive, cyclical patterns. Users can hence be trainers and trainees at the same time.

“The self-learning AI sensor will change how users interact with their fitness devices from a mere one-way approach to an interactive way of training”, says Dr. Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO at Bosch Sensortec. “This new sensor combines Bosch Sensortec’s long-term experience in smart motion sensors with its strong competence in innovative software development.”

One piece of software – four features

The self-learning AI software is available with a standard set of more than fifteen pre-learned fitness activities, so no training is required before use. In addition, it offers four product features: learn, personalise, auto track and enhance.

The learning mode offers users the option to add new fitness activities that were originally not supported, enabling them to customise the device to their individual needs. The personalisation feature enables users to adapt existing, pre-learnt activities to their own individual style, increasing the accuracy of calorie counting and activity analyses.

With the auto track function, users can automatically track fitness activities without any manual intervention and analyse their intensity with activity type and count over time – enabling both endurance and strength training. Finally, manufacturers can add new fitness activities without having to modify the software or needing an original dataset.

These new transferable exercises may be provided by coaches or star athletes, enabling benchmarking against the best and learning from experts, or simply from the users’ friends. This enhances the perceived value of devices and strongly helps the manufacturers to differentiate.

Stefan Finkbeiner

With the AI running on the sensor itself, hence on the edge, no connectivity to the cloud or even a smartphone is needed. This keeps the data private and means activities can be continuously tracked and analysed, without the need for an internet connection or tethering to a phone.

Edge AI also minimises latency and power consumption, meaning users can get fast, real-time feedback and extended charging intervals on their devices.

All-in-one solution with multiple software options

The new sensor is provided to manufacturers as an integrated System in Package (SiP) solution, which includes the hardware, software and embedded AI. This reduces development time and costs, and cuts time to market.

In addition to the self-learning AI software, Bosch Sensortec offers a wide range of software solutions for the BHI260AP. Wearables manufacturers can simply load the required software on to the sensor to enable solutions targeted at specific use cases including orientation tracking, position tracking (PDR) and swimming.

The sensor recognises four different swimming styles: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Since the BHI260AP is a fully programmable sensor, manufacturers can build their own customised software to be embedded in the BHI260AP or upload customisd solutions depending on the users’ context. To protect these customised solutions from unauthorised use, the smart programmable sensor offers a digital signature.

To make development of AI based wearable solutions even easier, Bosch Sensortec offers an application board along with a BHI260AP shuttle board, which can be wirelessly connected over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to smartphones.

The BHI260AP self-learning AI sensor and the corresponding shuttle board are available via Bosch Sensortec’s distributors. The different software packages are available for download here.

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