ECG Signal Quality in Intermittent Long-Term Dry Electrode Recordings with Controlled Motion Artifacts

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Wearable long-term monitoring applications are becoming more and more popular in both the consumer and the medical market. In wearable ECG monitoring, the data quality depends on the properties of the electrodes and on how they contact the skin. Dry electrodes do not require any action from the user. They usually do not irritate the skin, and they provide sufficiently high-quality data for ECG monitoring purposes during low-intensity user activity. We investigated prospective motion artifact–resistant dry electrode materials for wearable ECG monitoring.
The tested materials were 1) porous: a conductive polymer, conductive silver fabric; and 2) solid: stainless steel, silver, and platinum. ECG was acquired from test subjects in a 10-minute continuous settling test and in a 48-hour intermittent long-term test. In the settling test, the electrodes were stationary, whereas both stationary and controlled motion artifact tests were included in the long-term test. The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was used as a figure of merit to quantify the results. Skin-electrode interface impedance was measured to quantify its effect on the ECG, as well as to leverage the dry electrode ECG amplifier design.

The SNR of all electrode types increased during the settling test. In the long-term test, the SNR was generally elevated further. The introduction of electrode movement reduced the SNR markedly. Solid electrodes had a higher SNR and lower skin-electrode impedance than porous electrodes. SNR and impedance are negatively associated with each other. In the stationary testing, stainless steel showed the highest SNR, followed by platinum, silver, conductive polymer, and conductive fabric. In the movement testing, the order was platinum, stainless steel, silver, conductive polymer, and conductive fabric.


The files include videos showing the instrumentation during ECG and impedance movement testing and an Excel-sheet with the calculated signal-to-noise results and measured impedance norms. Full methods are described in the related research paper of the same name.

Funding Agency: 
1) Tampere University Hospital Support Foundation, 2) Tampere University, The Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology 3) Foundation of Electronics Engineers 4) Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation
Grant Number: 
1) MK355, 2-4) no grant number