Recognizing human activity using RGBD data
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Traditional computer vision algorithms try to understand the world using visible light cameras. However, there are inherent limitations of this type of data source. First, visible light images are sensitive to illumination changes and background clutter. Second, the 3D structural information of the scene is lost when projecting the 3D world to 2D images. Recovering the 3D information from 2D images is a challenging problem. Range sensors have existed for over thirty years, which capture 3D characteristics of the scene. However, earlier range sensors were either too expensive, difficult to use in human environments, slow at acquiring data, or provided a poor estimation of distance. Recently, the easy access to the RGBD data at real-time frame rate is leading to a revolution in perception and inspired many new research using RGBD data. I propose algorithms to detect persons and understand the activities using RGBD data. I demonstrate the solutions to many computer vision problems may be improved with the added depth channel. The 3D structural information may give rise to algorithms with real-time and view-invariant properties in a faster and easier fashion. When both data sources are available, the features extracted from the depth channel may be combined with traditional features computed from RGB channels to generate more robust systems with enhanced recognition abilities, which may be able to deal with more challenging scenarios. As a starting point, the first problem is to find the persons of various poses in the scene, including moving or static persons. Localizing humans from RGB images is limited by the lighting conditions and background clutter. Depth image gives alternative ways to find the humans in the scene. In the past, detection of humans from range data is usually achieved by tracking, which does not work for indoor person detection. In this thesis, I propose a model based approach to detect the persons using the structural information embedded in the depth image. I propose a 2D head contour model and a 3D head surface model to look for the head-shoulder part of the person. Then, a segmentation scheme is proposed to segment the full human body from the background and extract the contour. I also give a tracking algorithm based on the detection result. I further research on recognizing human actions and activities. I propose two features for recognizing human activities. The first feature is drawn from the skeletal joint locations estimated from a depth image. It is a compact representation of the human posture called histograms of 3D joint locations (HOJ3D). This representation is view-invariant and the whole algorithm runs at real-time. This feature may benefit many applications to get a fast estimation of the posture and action of the human subject. The second feature is a spatio-temporal feature for depth video, which is called Depth Cuboid Similarity Feature (DCSF). The interest points are extracted using an algorithm that effectively suppresses the noise and finds salient human motions. DCSF is extracted centered on each interest point, which forms the description of the video contents. This descriptor can be used to recognize the activities with no dependence on skeleton information or pre-processing steps such as motion segmentation, tracking, or even image de-noising or hole-filling. It is more flexible and widely applicable to many scenarios. Finally, all the features herein developed are combined to solve a novel problem: first-person human activity recognition using RGBD data. Traditional activity recognition algorithms focus on recognizing activities from a third-person perspective. I propose to recognize activities from a first-person perspective with RGBD data. This task is very novel and extremely challenging due to the large amount of camera motion either due to self exploration or the response of the interaction. I extracted 3D optical flow features as the motion descriptor, 3D skeletal joints features as posture descriptors, spatio-temporal features as local appearance descriptors to describe the first-person videos. To address the ego-motion of the camera, I propose an attention mask to guide the recognition procedures and separate the features on the ego-motion region and independent-motion region. The 3D features are very useful at summarizing the discerning information of the activities. In addition, the combination of the 3D features with existing 2D features brings more robust recognition results and make the algorithm capable of dealing with more challenging cases.