Hardware/software co-design of fractal features based fall detection system

Ahsen Tahir*, Gordon Morison, Dawn A. Skelton, Ryan M. Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
86 Downloads (Pure)


Falls are a leading cause of death in older adults and result in high levels of mortality, morbidity and immobility. Fall Detection Systems (FDS) are imperative for timely medical aid and have been known to reduce death rate by 80%. We propose a novel wearable sensor FDS which exploits fractal dynamics of fall accelerometer signals. Fractal dynamics can be used as an irregularity measure of signals and our work shows that it is a key discriminant for classification of falls from other activities of life. We design, implement and evaluate a hardware feature accelerator for computation of fractal features through multi-level wavelet transform on a reconfigurable embedded System on Chip, Zynq device for evaluating wearable accelerometer sensors. The proposed FDS utilises a hardware/software co-design approach with hardware accelerator for fractal features and software implementation of Linear Discriminant Analysis on an embedded ARM core for high accuracy and energy efficiency. The proposed system achieves 99.38% fall detection accuracy, 7.3× speed-up and 6.53× improvements in power consumption, compared to the software only execution with an overall performance per Watt advantage of 47.6×, while consuming low reconfigurable resources at 28.67%.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2322
Number of pages29
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2020


  • fall detection
  • wearable sensors
  • classification
  • machine learning
  • fractal features
  • hardware software co-design
  • FPGA
  • reconfigurable design
  • embedded system on chip


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