Evaluation Of Off-The-Shelf Hardware For Musculoskeletal Ergonomic Assessment

Evaluation Of Off-The-Shelf Hardware For Musculoskeletal Ergonomic Assessment


Alison Orr
Biomedical Engineering

Hao Zhao
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Xinnian Zheng
Electrical & Computer Engineering



Dr. Roobik Gharabagi
Dr. Gary Bledsoe
Dr. Kyle Mitchell

For the most up-to-date information, visit the official project website.  

Project Description:

The evidence linking musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) to work-related activities is clear and overwhelming. Estimates of the direct costs of compensation, treatment, and rehabilitation have been estimated to be as high $20 billion per year. The indirect costs of work-induced MSD, such as productivity loss, increase the total expenditure to nearly $50 billion per year in the U.S. Work-related MSD prevention is the key to decreasing the financial burden on American industry and protecting worker health.

The purpose of this study is to explore a low-cost alternative approach to motion capture using the Microsoft Kinect and an open-source software package called Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST). This evaluation will be performed in two phases. In phase one the motion capture sensor and analysis software will be evaluated, in phase two the system from phase one will be used in a limited laboratory ergonomic evaluation study.


This paper is a Preliminary Design Review for St. Louis University’s Senior Design project Evaluation of Off-The-Shelf Hardware for Musculoskeletal Ergonomic Assessment. The KINECT team consists of two Electrical/Computer Engineering seniors and one Biomedical Engineering senior. In this work, a Microsoft Kinect sensor along with the Microsoft Software Development Kit (SDK) are used to gather the color frame, depth frame and the skeleton frame of a human. Additionally, the (x,y,z) coordinate positions of twenty joints is recorded. From the coordinates of the joints, the Recommended Weight Limit (RWL) will be calculated. The RWL can then be used to help reduce the risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders occurring in the workplace.