iPhone used to gather data on the gait of horses

© Mike Bain
© Mike Bain

British researchers used an Apple iPhone 6 to gather what they described as meaningful gait data in horses.

Dr Thilo Pfau and Professor Renate Weller, both from the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, described their novel use of the cellphone in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

The pair observed that the use of specialist inertial measurement unit (IMU) devices for gait analysis in horses had gained in popularity.

Similar transducers, they noted, were now found in consumer-grade smartphones. However, there had been no scientific data gathered to determine their potential use in assessing movement in horses and whether it was even.

Pfau and Weller compared data gathered from a validated specialist IMU system with that obtained from the smartphone, with both devices set up to measure movement symmetry and the range of motion of pelvic movement in the trotting horse.

Twenty horses were equipped with a specialist unit and the iPhone 6. Both devices were securely attached immediately in front of one another in the mid-line over the sacrum.

Horses were trotted in-hand and lunged on both reins on a soft arena surface.

Average values for movement symmetry and range of motion were determined over a series of strides for each exercise condition. The exercise was repeated in six horses to determine the effect of putting the sensors in the medio-lateral position.

The pair gave a rundown of the measurement range recorded, concluding: “The consumer grade smartphone provided meaningful gait data in horses.”

Comparison of a standalone consumer grade smartphone to a specialist inertial measurement unit for quantification of movement symmetry in the trotting horse.
T. Pfau and R. Weller
DOI: 10.1111/evj.12529
The abstract can be read here

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