Automatic recognition of labor activity: a machine learning approach to capture activity physiological patterns using wearable sensors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The first step toward developing an automated construction workers performance monitoring system is to initially establish a complete and competent activity recognition solution, which is still lacking. This study aims to propose a novel approach of using labor physiological data collected through wearable sensors as means of remote and automatic activity recognition. Design/methodology/approach: A pilot study is conducted against three pre-fabrication stone construction workers throughout three full working shifts to test the ability of automatically recognizing the type of activities they perform in-site through their lively measured physiological signals (i.e. blood volume pulse, respiration rate, heart rate, galvanic skin response and skin temperature). The physiological data are broadcasted from wearable sensors to a tablet application developed for this particular purpose, and are therefore used to train and assess the performance of various machine-learning classifiers. Findings: A promising result of up to 88% accuracy level for activity recognition was achieved by using an artificial neural network classifier. Nonetheless, special care needs to be taken for some activities that evoke similar physiological patterns. It is expected that blending this method with other currently developed camera-based or kinetic-based methods would yield higher activity recognition accuracy levels. Originality/value: The proposed method complements previously proposed labor tracking methods that focused on monitoring labor trajectories and postures, by using additional rich source of information from labors physiology, for real-time and remote activity recognition. Ultimately, this paves for an automated and comprehensive solution with which construction managers could monitor, control and collect rich real-time data about workers performance remotely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-575
Number of pages21
JournalConstruction Innovation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2021


  • Activity recognition
  • Construction labors
  • Machine learning
  • Performance monitoring
  • Physiological patterns
  • Wearable sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • General Computer Science
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction


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