Estimation of relative hand-finger orientation using a small IMU configuration

Zhicheng Yang*, Bert Jan F. van Beijnum, Bin Li, Shenggang Yan, Peter H. Veltink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)


Relative orientation estimation between the hand and its fingers is important in many applications, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and rehabilitation. It is still quite a big challenge to do the estimation by only exploiting inertial measurement units (IMUs) because of the integration drift that occurs in most approaches. When the hand is functionally used, there are many instances in which hand and finger tips move together, experiencing almost the same angular velocities, and in some of these cases, almost the same accelerations are measured in different 3D coordinate systems. Therefore, we hypothesize that relative orientations between the hand and the finger tips can be adequately estimated using 3D IMUs during such designated events (DEs) and in between these events. We fused this extra information from the DEs and IMU data with an extended Kalman filter (EKF). Our results show that errors in relative orientation can be smaller than five degrees if DEs are constantly present and the linear and angular movements of the whole hand are adequately rich. When the DEs are partially available in a functional water-drinking task, the orientation error is smaller than 10 degrees.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4008
Number of pages17
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2020


  • IMU
  • Magnetometer-free
  • Relative orientation estimation


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