Assessing cough intensity via accelerometry (Arduino)

Study level


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Graham Johnson
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Research projects investigating the production of cough aerosol from CF patients currently involved equipment which interferes with many existing techniques for cough intensity measurement. Accelerometers attached to the  chest to  measure chest wall movement are a promising and more laboratory compatible alternative for estimating the volume of air expelled when coughing.

Research activities

You will develop, test and calibrate a system for measuring chest wall movement for the purposing of objectively assessing the approximate rate of air expulsion when coughing. The project will involve the selection of a suitable accelerometer device, developing electronics (Arduino systems or similar) for processing the output signal and software for logging the data and estimating the flow rate.

You will also develop protocols for fitting the system to a volunteer (yourself initially), assessing and entering standardized body measurements testing as the basis for flow rate estimation and checking the accuracy by calibrating the system for the volunteer from ultrasonic flow meter measurements of the actual flow during coughing.

You will then participate in a cough aerosol experiment using our existing TARDIS cough aerosol measurement system to demonstrate the utility of your system in practice. You will report on the relationship between aerosol production and cough intensity as measurement by your system for one or more volunteers.


  • A usable system for rating cough intensity based on the signal from an accelerometer taped to the chest.
  • A report on the relationship between aerosol concentration during coughing and cough intensity.


Contact the supervisor for more information.