In the last few years, much effort has been devoted to the development of wearable sensing systems able to monitor physiological, behavioral, and environmental parameters. Less has been done on the accurate testing and assessment of this instrumentation, especially when considering devices thought to be used in harsh environments by subjects or operators performing intense physical activities. This paper presents methodology and results of the evaluation of wearable physiological sensors under these conditions. The methodology has been applied to a specific textile-based prototype, aimed at the real-time monitoring of rescuers in emergency contexts, which has been developed within a European funded project called ProeTEX. Wearable sensor measurements have been compared with the ones of suitable gold standards through Bland-Altman statistical analysis; tests were realized in controlled environments simulating typical intervention conditions, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 45°C and subjects performing mild to very intense activities. This evaluation methodology demonstrated to be effective for the definition of the limits of use of wearable sensors. Furthermore, the ProeTEX prototype demonstrated to be reliable, since it produced negligible errors when used for up to 1 h in normal environmental temperature (20°C and 35°C) and up to 30 min in harsher environment (45°C). © 2012 IEEE.
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