Unsupervised Detection and Analysis of Changes in Everyday Physical Activity Data

  • Gina SprintEmail author
  • Diane J. Cook
  • Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Part of the Intelligent Systems Reference Library book series (ISRL, volume 137)


Sensor-based time series data can be utilized to monitor changes in human behavior as a person makes a significant lifestyle change, such as progress toward a fitness goal. Recently, wearable sensors have increased in popularity as people aspire to be more conscientious of their physical health. Automatically detecting and tracking behavior changes from wearable sensor-collected physical activity data can provide a valuable monitoring and motivating tool. In this paper, we formalize the problem of unsupervised physical activity change detection and address the problem with our Physical Activity Change Detection (PACD) approach. PACD is a framework that detects changes between time periods, determines significance of the detected changes, and analyzes the nature of the changes. We compare the abilities of three change detection algorithms from the literature and one proposed algorithm to capture different types of changes as part of PACD. We illustrate and evaluate PACD on synthetic data and using Fitbit data collected from older adults who participated in a health intervention study. Results indicate PACD detects several changes in both datasets. The proposed change algorithms and analysis methods are useful data mining techniques for unsupervised, window-based change detection with potential to track users’ physical activity and motivate progress toward their health goals.


Physical activity monitoring Wearable sensors Unsupervised learning Change point detection Data mining 



We wish to thank the Department of Psychology at Washington State University for their insights and help with data collection. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0900781.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gina Sprint
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diane J. Cook
    • 2
  • Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
    • 2
  1. 1.Gonzaga UniversitySpokaneUSA
  2. 2.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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