This paper presents an automated procedure for acquisition and analysis of BallistoCardioGraphy (BCG) traces. A tri-axial accelerometer and a microcontroller unit are used to record heart-induced recoil forces generated from a lying subject. The problem of BCG J-peak annotation is split into two sub-tasks: candidates extraction, based on a detection signal, and actual annotation, guided by subject-specific search windows. Such procedure is derived from an automatic calibration, which is carried out with no need of concurrent ElectroCardioGram (ECG) or user intervention. The algorithm also implements post-annotation checks for refinement of annotation, which effectively reduces the number of missed J-peaks. The impact of each algorithm phase is analyzed, assessing statistical significance of each step; finally, performance is optimized in a data-driven fashion. Results show that the proposed methodology is able to achieve high sensitivity and precision (the median score is 98.9% and 98.1%, respectively) in J-peak detection. The quality of J-peaks timing annotation is further demonstrated by a very low discrepancy between BCG and ECG HR estimates. Over all population, the standard deviation of such error was found to be approximately 6.56 ms, whereas the Mean Absolute Error just 4.7 ms (i.e. ≈1.18;Ts, where Ts = 4 ms is the sampling period). Such scores, indeed, improve over recent related literature.
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