Data Signal

Data signals are an abstract representation of data producers. The API treats them as an event that contains data and represents them with the MblMwDataSignal struct. They can be safely typecasted to an MblMwEvent

Data Handling

Signal data is encapsulated by the MblMwData struct. The struct contains a:

  • Timestamp of when the data was created
  • Pointer to the data
  • Data type id indicating how to cast the pointer

An enumeration of data types is defined by the MblMwDataTypeId enum and structs wrapping non basic data types are defined in the types.h header file.

#include "metawear/core/data.h"

#include <chrono>
#include <iomanip>

using std::chrono::duration_cast;
using std::chrono::milliseconds;
using std::chrono::system_clock;
using std::chrono::time_point;

void data_printer(void* context, const MblMwData* data) {
    // Print data as 2 digit hex values
    uint8_t* data_bytes = (uint8_t*) data->value;
    string bytes_str("[");
    char buffer[5];
    for (uint8_t i = 0; i < data->length; i++) {
        if (i) {
            bytes_str += ", ";
        sprintf(buffer, "0x%02x", data_bytes[i]);
        bytes_str += buffer;
    bytes_str += "]";

    // Format time as YYYYMMDD-HH:MM:SS.LLL
    time_point<system_clock> then(milliseconds(data->epoch));
    auto time_c = system_clock::to_time_t(then);
    auto rem_ms= data->epoch % 1000;

    cout << "{timestamp: " << put_time(localtime(&time_c), "%Y%m%d-%T") << "." << rem_ms << ", "
        << "type_id: " << data->type_id << ", "
        << "bytes: " << bytes_str.c_str() << "}"
        << endl;


To stream data live to your device, call mbl_mw_datasignal_subscribe with the desired data signal and a callback function for handling the received data. Terminating the live stream is done by calling mbl_mw_datasignal_unsubscribe.

#include "metawear/core/datasignal.h"

#include "metawear/sensor/switch.h"

void subscribe_switch(MblMwMetaWearBoard* board, void* context) {
    static auto data_handler = [](void* context, const MblMwData* data) {
        if (*((uint32_t*)data->value)) {
            cout << "Switch Pressed" << endl;
        } else {
            cout << "Switch Released" << endl;

    auto switch_signal = mbl_mw_switch_get_state_data_signal(board);
    mbl_mw_datasignal_subscribe(switch_signal, context, data_handler);


Alternatively, data can be logged and retrieved at a later time. See the Logger section for more details.

Readable Signals

Some sensors will only send data when they receive a command to do so. Data signals that represent this type of data source are called readable signals. You can check if a data signal is readable by calling mbl_mw_datasignal_is_readable.

The read command is issued by calling mbl_mw_datasignal_read or mbl_mw_datasignal_read_with_parameters. Most readable data signals will use the former function which does not require any additional parameters. The latter function is for reads that require additional parameters which are bundled into one struct.

When using readable signals, you must decide up front if the data will be streamed or logged before interacting with it. That is, you should either have subscribed to or setup a logger for a readable signal before reading it.

Data Processing

Data signals can be fed through the on-board data processors to filter and/or transform the data in the firmware. By performing computations on the MetaWear side, you can reduce the amount of data that is sent over the radio and the amount of postprocessing that is done on your mobile device. Data processors can also be chained together to perform more complex tasks, such as using the rss, average, and threshold processors to determine if the board is in freefall based on the XYZ acceleration data.

See the Data Processor section for more details on the data processing system.

#include "metawear/core/dataprocessor_fwd.h"
#include "metawear/processor/rss.h"
#include "metawear/sensor/accelerometer.h"

void rss_accelerometer(MblMwMetaWearBoard* board) {
    static auto data_handler = [](void* context, const MblMwData* data) -> void {
        printf("acc rss= %.3fg\n", (float*) data->value);
    static auto rss_ready = [](void* context, MblMwDataProcessor* processor) -> void {
        // subscribe to the rss processor
        mbl_mw_datasignal_subscribe((MblMwDataSignal*) processor, context, data_handler);

    // Create an rss processor to transform the XYZ values into vector magnitude
    // Do not need to compute rss on your device and less data is transmitted
    auto acc_signal = mbl_mw_acc_get_acceleration_data_signal(board);
    mbl_mw_dataprocessor_rss_create(acc_signal, nullptr, rss_ready);

Component Signals

Some signals, such as the acceleration datasignal, are composed of multiple values. While you can interact with them as a whole, somtimes it is more convenient to only use individual values. To access the component values, call mbl_mw_datasignal_get_component with the signal and an index represnting which component to retrieve. If a signal is single valued, the function will return null.

#include "metawear/sensor/accelerometer.h"

void component_demo(MblMwMetaWearBoard* board) {
    auto acc_root = mbl_mw_acc_get_acceleration_data_signal(board);
    // get z axis signal
    auto acc_z = mbl_mw_datasignal_get_component(acc_root, MBL_MW_ACC_ACCEL_Z_AXIS_INDEX);

    mbl_mw_datasignal_subscribe(acc_z, [](MblMwData* data) -> void {
        //combined xyz data is MblMwCartesianFloat, individual axis is float
        printf("z-axis: %.3f\n", *((float*) data->value));