Temporal accuracy is a fundamental characteristic of logging technology and is needed to correlate data streams. Single biologgers sensing animal movement (accelerometers, gyroscope, magnetometers, collectively inertial measurement unit; IMU) have been extensively used to study the ecology of animals. To better capture whole body movement and increase the accuracy of behavior classification, there is a need to deploy multiple loggers on a single individual to capture the movement of multiple body parts. Yet due to temporal drift, accurately aligning multiple IMU datasets can be problematic, especially as deployment duration increases. In this paper we quantify temporal drift and errors in commercially available IMU data loggers using a combination of robotic and animal borne experiments. The variance in drift rate within a tag is over an order of magnitude lower (σ = 0.001 s h−1) than the variance between tags (σ = 0.015 s·h−1), showing that recording frequency is a characteristic of each tag and not a random variable. Furthermore, we observed a large offset (0.54 ± 0.016 s·h−1) between two groups of tags that had differing recording frequencies, and we observed three instances of instantaneous temporal jumps within datasets introducing errors into the data streams. Finally, we show that relative drift rates can be estimated even when deployed on animals displaying various behaviors without the tags needing to be simultaneously moved. For the tags used in this study, drift rates can vary significantly between tags, are repeatable, and can be accurately measured in the field. The temporal alignment of multiple tag datasets allows researchers to deploy multiple tags on an individual animal which will greatly increase our knowledge of movement kinematics and expand the range of movement characteristics that can be used for behavioral classification.

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