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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5978489, 9 pages
Research Article

Application of Machine Learning Approaches for Classifying Sitting Posture Based on Force and Acceleration Sensors

1Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 3, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
2Seminar for Statistics, ETH Zurich, Rämistrasse 101, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland

Received 6 May 2016; Revised 6 September 2016; Accepted 19 September 2016

Academic Editor: Yudong Cai

Copyright © 2016 Roland Zemp et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Occupational musculoskeletal disorders, particularly chronic low back pain (LBP), are ubiquitous due to prolonged static sitting or nonergonomic sitting positions. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop an instrumented chair with force and acceleration sensors to determine the accuracy of automatically identifying the user’s sitting position by applying five different machine learning methods (Support Vector Machines, Multinomial Regression, Boosting, Neural Networks, and Random Forest). Forty-one subjects were requested to sit four times in seven different prescribed sitting positions (total 1148 samples). Sixteen force sensor values and the backrest angle were used as the explanatory variables (features) for the classification. The different classification methods were compared by means of a Leave-One-Out cross-validation approach. The best performance was achieved using the Random Forest classification algorithm, producing a mean classification accuracy of 90.9% for subjects with which the algorithm was not familiar. The classification accuracy varied between 81% and 98% for the seven different sitting positions. The present study showed the possibility of accurately classifying different sitting positions by means of the introduced instrumented office chair combined with machine learning analyses. The use of such novel approaches for the accurate assessment of chair usage could offer insights into the relationships between sitting position, sitting behaviour, and the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders.