Design and validation of a simple automated optical step counting method for treadmill walking

Joseph M. Mahoney, Zackery E. Scalyer, Matthew B. Rhudy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Reliable step counting is a critical part of locomotion research. Current counting methods can be inaccurate, time consuming, expensive or encumbering to the subject. Here, we present a camera-based optical method for automatically counting steps. Methods: Fifteen healthy adults walked, jogged and ran on a treadmill at three different constant speeds (1.21, 2.01, 2.68 m/s) and once at varying speed (1.21–2.68 m/s) for 90 s. Subjects had visual marker affixed to their left foot while walking. Video was recorded synchronously at low- and high-resolution during trials. The step count found manually from the video was compared to an automated video analysis system using the two configurations of the optical system. Results: Bland–Altman plots, Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and relative error comparison were used for quantitative assessment of device reliability. Reliability of optical method was high (ICC ≥0.98). Conclusions: The method produces accurate step count results for the range of speeds tested. They use customisable open-source software and off-the-shelf hardware. The method has a low cost of implementation compared to many consumer products and grants researchers access to the raw sensor data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-474
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Engineering and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering


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