Continual learning in sensor-based human activity recognition: an empirical benchmark analysis

Saurav Jha, Martin Schiemer, Franco Zambonelli, Juan Ye*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Sensor-based human activity recognition (HAR), i.e., the ability to discover human daily activity patterns from wearable or embedded sensors, is a key enabler for many real-world applications in smart homes, personal healthcare, and urban planning. However, with an increasing number of applications being deployed, an important question arises: how can a HAR system autonomously learn new activities over a long period of time without being re-engineered from scratch? This problem is known as continual learning and has been particularly popular in the domain of computer vision, where several techniques to attack it have been developed. This paper aims to assess to what extent such continual learning techniques can be applied to the HAR domain. To this end, we propose a general framework to evaluate the performance of such techniques on various types of commonly used HAR datasets. Then, we present a comprehensive empirical analysis of their computational cost and of their effectiveness of tackling HAR specific challenges (i.e., sensor noise and labels’ scarcity). The presented results uncover useful insights on their applicability and suggest future research directions for HAR systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalInformation Sciences
VolumeIn Press
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Apr 2021


  • Human activity recognition
  • Continual learning
  • Lifelong learning
  • Incremental learning


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