Comparative abilities of Microsoft Kinect and Vicon 3D motion capture for gait analysis

Alexandra Pfister, Alexandre M West, Shaw Bronner, Jack Adam Noah
Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology 2014, 38 (5): 274-80
Biomechanical analysis is a powerful tool in the evaluation of movement dysfunction in orthopaedic and neurologic populations. Three-dimensional (3D) motion capture systems are widely used, accurate systems, but are costly and not available in many clinical settings. The Microsoft Kinect™ has the potential to be used as an alternative low-cost motion analysis tool. The purpose of this study was to assess concurrent validity of the Kinect™ with Brekel Kinect software in comparison to Vicon Nexus during sagittal plane gait kinematics. Twenty healthy adults (nine male, 11 female) were tracked while walking and jogging at three velocities on a treadmill. Concurrent hip and knee peak flexion and extension and stride timing measurements were compared between Vicon and Kinect™. Although Kinect measurements were representative of normal gait, the Kinect™ generally under-estimated joint flexion and over-estimated extension. Kinect™ and Vicon hip angular displacement correlation was very low and error was large. Kinect™ knee measurements were somewhat better than hip, but were not consistent enough for clinical assessment. Correlation between Kinect™ and Vicon stride timing was high and error was fairly small. Variability in Kinect™ measurements was smallest at the slowest velocity. The Kinect™ has basic motion capture capabilities and with some minor adjustments will be an acceptable tool to measure stride timing, but sophisticated advances in software and hardware are necessary to improve Kinect™ sensitivity before it can be implemented for clinical use.

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