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2019


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Decoding subcategories of human bodies from both body- and face-responsive cortical regions

Foster, C., Zhao, M., Romero, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J., Bartels, A., Bülthoff, I.

NeuroImage, 202(15):116085, November 2019 (article)

Abstract
Our visual system can easily categorize objects (e.g. faces vs. bodies) and further differentiate them into subcategories (e.g. male vs. female). This ability is particularly important for objects of social significance, such as human faces and bodies. While many studies have demonstrated category selectivity to faces and bodies in the brain, how subcategories of faces and bodies are represented remains unclear. Here, we investigated how the brain encodes two prominent subcategories shared by both faces and bodies, sex and weight, and whether neural responses to these subcategories rely on low-level visual, high-level visual or semantic similarity. We recorded brain activity with fMRI while participants viewed faces and bodies that varied in sex, weight, and image size. The results showed that the sex of bodies can be decoded from both body- and face-responsive brain areas, with the former exhibiting more consistent size-invariant decoding than the latter. Body weight could also be decoded in face-responsive areas and in distributed body-responsive areas, and this decoding was also invariant to image size. The weight of faces could be decoded from the fusiform body area (FBA), and weight could be decoded across face and body stimuli in the extrastriate body area (EBA) and a distributed body-responsive area. The sex of well-controlled faces (e.g. excluding hairstyles) could not be decoded from face- or body-responsive regions. These results demonstrate that both face- and body-responsive brain regions encode information that can distinguish the sex and weight of bodies. Moreover, the neural patterns corresponding to sex and weight were invariant to image size and could sometimes generalize across face and body stimuli, suggesting that such subcategorical information is encoded with a high-level visual or semantic code.

paper pdf DOI [BibTex]

2019

paper pdf DOI [BibTex]


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AirCap – Aerial Outdoor Motion Capture

Ahmad, A., Price, E., Tallamraju, R., Saini, N., Lawless, G., Ludwig, R., Martinovic, I., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J.

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2019), Workshop on Aerial Swarms, November 2019 (misc)

Abstract
This paper presents an overview of the Grassroots project Aerial Outdoor Motion Capture (AirCap) running at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. AirCap's goal is to achieve markerless, unconstrained, human motion capture (mocap) in unknown and unstructured outdoor environments. To that end, we have developed an autonomous flying motion capture system using a team of aerial vehicles (MAVs) with only on-board, monocular RGB cameras. We have conducted several real robot experiments involving up to 3 aerial vehicles autonomously tracking and following a person in several challenging scenarios using our approach of active cooperative perception developed in AirCap. Using the images captured by these robots during the experiments, we have demonstrated a successful offline body pose and shape estimation with sufficiently high accuracy. Overall, we have demonstrated the first fully autonomous flying motion capture system involving multiple robots for outdoor scenarios.

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Active Perception based Formation Control for Multiple Aerial Vehicles

Tallamraju, R., Price, E., Ludwig, R., Karlapalem, K., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J., Ahmad, A.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Robotics and Automation Letters, IEEE, August 2019 (article) Accepted

Abstract
We present a novel robotic front-end for autonomous aerial motion-capture (mocap) in outdoor environments. In previous work, we presented an approach for cooperative detection and tracking (CDT) of a subject using multiple micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs). However, it did not ensure optimal view-point configurations of the MAVs to minimize the uncertainty in the person's cooperatively tracked 3D position estimate. In this article, we introduce an active approach for CDT. In contrast to cooperatively tracking only the 3D positions of the person, the MAVs can actively compute optimal local motion plans, resulting in optimal view-point configurations, which minimize the uncertainty in the tracked estimate. We achieve this by decoupling the goal of active tracking into a quadratic objective and non-convex constraints corresponding to angular configurations of the MAVs w.r.t. the person. We derive this decoupling using Gaussian observation model assumptions within the CDT algorithm. We preserve convexity in optimization by embedding all the non-convex constraints, including those for dynamic obstacle avoidance, as external control inputs in the MPC dynamics. Multiple real robot experiments and comparisons involving 3 MAVs in several challenging scenarios are presented.

pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning and Tracking the 3D Body Shape of Freely Moving Infants from RGB-D sequences

Hesse, N., Pujades, S., Black, M., Arens, M., Hofmann, U., Schroeder, S.

Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), 2019 (article)

Abstract
Statistical models of the human body surface are generally learned from thousands of high-quality 3D scans in predefined poses to cover the wide variety of human body shapes and articulations. Acquisition of such data requires expensive equipment, calibration procedures, and is limited to cooperative subjects who can understand and follow instructions, such as adults. We present a method for learning a statistical 3D Skinned Multi-Infant Linear body model (SMIL) from incomplete, low-quality RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants. Quantitative experiments show that SMIL faithfully represents the RGB-D data and properly factorizes the shape and pose of the infants. To demonstrate the applicability of SMIL, we fit the model to RGB-D sequences of freely moving infants and show, with a case study, that our method captures enough motion detail for General Movements Assessment (GMA), a method used in clinical practice for early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants. SMIL provides a new tool for analyzing infant shape and movement and is a step towards an automated system for GMA.

pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]

pdf Journal DOI [BibTex]


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Perceptual Effects of Inconsistency in Human Animations

Kenny, S., Mahmood, N., Honda, C., Black, M. J., Troje, N. F.

ACM Trans. Appl. Percept., 16(1):2:1-2:18, Febuary 2019 (article)

Abstract
The individual shape of the human body, including the geometry of its articulated structure and the distribution of weight over that structure, influences the kinematics of a person’s movements. How sensitive is the visual system to inconsistencies between shape and motion introduced by retargeting motion from one person onto the shape of another? We used optical motion capture to record five pairs of male performers with large differences in body weight, while they pushed, lifted, and threw objects. From these data, we estimated both the kinematics of the actions as well as the performer’s individual body shape. To obtain consistent and inconsistent stimuli, we created animated avatars by combining the shape and motion estimates from either a single performer or from different performers. Using these stimuli we conducted three experiments in an immersive virtual reality environment. First, a group of participants detected which of two stimuli was inconsistent. Performance was very low, and results were only marginally significant. Next, a second group of participants rated perceived attractiveness, eeriness, and humanness of consistent and inconsistent stimuli, but these judgements of animation characteristics were not affected by consistency of the stimuli. Finally, a third group of participants rated properties of the objects rather than of the performers. Here, we found strong influences of shape-motion inconsistency on perceived weight and thrown distance of objects. This suggests that the visual system relies on its knowledge of shape and motion and that these components are assimilated into an altered perception of the action outcome. We propose that the visual system attempts to resist inconsistent interpretations of human animations. Actions involving object manipulations present an opportunity for the visual system to reinterpret the introduced inconsistencies as a change in the dynamics of an object rather than as an unexpected combination of body shape and body motion.

publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]

publisher pdf DOI [BibTex]


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Perceiving Systems (2016-2018)
Scientific Advisory Board Report, 2019 (misc)

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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The Virtual Caliper: Rapid Creation of Metrically Accurate Avatars from 3D Measurements

Pujades, S., Mohler, B., Thaler, A., Tesch, J., Mahmood, N., Hesse, N., Bülthoff, H. H., Black, M. J.

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 25, pages: 1887,1897, IEEE, 2019 (article)

Abstract
Creating metrically accurate avatars is important for many applications such as virtual clothing try-on, ergonomics, medicine, immersive social media, telepresence, and gaming. Creating avatars that precisely represent a particular individual is challenging however, due to the need for expensive 3D scanners, privacy issues with photographs or videos, and difficulty in making accurate tailoring measurements. We overcome these challenges by creating “The Virtual Caliper”, which uses VR game controllers to make simple measurements. First, we establish what body measurements users can reliably make on their own body. We find several distance measurements to be good candidates and then verify that these are linearly related to 3D body shape as represented by the SMPL body model. The Virtual Caliper enables novice users to accurately measure themselves and create an avatar with their own body shape. We evaluate the metric accuracy relative to ground truth 3D body scan data, compare the method quantitatively to other avatar creation tools, and perform extensive perceptual studies. We also provide a software application to the community that enables novices to rapidly create avatars in fewer than five minutes. Not only is our approach more rapid than existing methods, it exports a metrically accurate 3D avatar model that is rigged and skinned.

Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]

Project Page IEEE Open Access IEEE Open Access PDF DOI [BibTex]

2008


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A non-parametric Bayesian alternative to spike sorting

Wood, F., Black, M. J.

J. Neuroscience Methods, 173(1):1–12, August 2008 (article)

Abstract
The analysis of extra-cellular neural recordings typically begins with careful spike sorting and all analysis of the data then rests on the correctness of the resulting spike trains. In many situations this is unproblematic as experimental and spike sorting procedures often focus on well isolated units. There is evidence in the literature, however, that errors in spike sorting can occur even with carefully collected and selected data. Additionally, chronically implanted electrodes and arrays with fixed electrodes cannot be easily adjusted to provide well isolated units. In these situations, multiple units may be recorded and the assignment of waveforms to units may be ambiguous. At the same time, analysis of such data may be both scientifically important and clinically relevant. In this paper we address this issue using a novel probabilistic model that accounts for several important sources of uncertainty and error in spike sorting. In lieu of sorting neural data to produce a single best spike train, we estimate a probabilistic model of spike trains given the observed data. We show how such a distribution over spike sortings can support standard neuroscientific questions while providing a representation of uncertainty in the analysis. As a representative illustration of the approach, we analyzed primary motor cortical tuning with respect to hand movement in data recorded with a chronic multi-electrode array in non-human primates.We found that the probabilistic analysis generally agrees with human sorters but suggests the presence of tuned units not detected by humans.

pdf preprint pdf from publisher PubMed [BibTex]

2008

pdf preprint pdf from publisher PubMed [BibTex]


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Neural control of computer cursor velocity by decoding motor cortical spiking activity in humans with tetraplegia

(J. Neural Engineering Highlights of 2008 Collection)

Kim, S., Simeral, J., Hochberg, L., Donoghue, J. P., Black, M. J.

J. Neural Engineering, 5, pages: 455–476, 2008 (article)

Abstract
Computer-mediated connections between human motor cortical neurons and assistive devices promise to improve or restore lost function in people with paralysis. Recently, a pilot clinical study of an intracortical neural interface system demonstrated that a tetraplegic human was able to obtain continuous two-dimensional control of a computer cursor using neural activity recorded from his motor cortex. This control, however, was not sufficiently accurate for reliable use in many common computer control tasks. Here, we studied several central design choices for such a system including the kinematic representation for cursor movement, the decoding method that translates neuronal ensemble spiking activity into a control signal and the cursor control task used during training for optimizing the parameters of the decoding method. In two tetraplegic participants, we found that controlling a cursor’s velocity resulted in more accurate closed-loop control than controlling its position directly and that cursor velocity control was achieved more rapidly than position control. Control quality was further improved over conventional linear filters by using a probabilistic method, the Kalman filter, to decode human motor cortical activity. Performance assessment based on standard metrics used for the evaluation of a wide range of pointing devices demonstrated significantly improved cursor control with velocity rather than position decoding.

pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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Brownian Warps for Non-Rigid Registration

Mads Nielsen, Peter Johansen, Andrew Jackson, Benny Lautrup, Soren Hauberg

Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 31, pages: 221-231, Springer Netherlands, 2008 (article)

Publishers site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site PDF [BibTex]


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An Efficient Algorithm for Modelling Duration in Hidden Markov Models, with a Dramatic Application

Soren Hauberg, Jakob Sloth

Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, 31, pages: 165-170, Springer Netherlands, 2008 (article)

Publishers site Paper site PDF [BibTex]

Publishers site Paper site PDF [BibTex]

1996


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Estimating optical flow in segmented images using variable-order parametric models with local deformations

Black, M. J., Jepson, A.

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 18(10):972-986, October 1996 (article)

Abstract
This paper presents a new model for estimating optical flow based on the motion of planar regions plus local deformations. The approach exploits brightness information to organize and constrain the interpretation of the motion by using segmented regions of piecewise smooth brightness to hypothesize planar regions in the scene. Parametric flow models are estimated in these regions in a two step process which first computes a coarse fit and estimates the appropriate parameterization of the motion of the region (two, six, or eight parameters). The initial fit is refined using a generalization of the standard area-based regression approaches. Since the assumption of planarity is likely to be violated, we allow local deformations from the planar assumption in the same spirit as physically-based approaches which model shape using coarse parametric models plus local deformations. This parametric+deformation model exploits the strong constraints of parametric approaches while retaining the adaptive nature of regularization approaches. Experimental results on a variety of images indicate that the parametric+deformation model produces accurate flow estimates while the incorporation of brightness segmentation provides precise localization of motion boundaries.

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

1996

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


Thumb xl bildschirmfoto 2012 12 07 um 11.59.00
On the unification of line processes, outlier rejection, and robust statistics with applications in early vision

Black, M., Rangarajan, A.

International Journal of Computer Vision , 19(1):57-92, July 1996 (article)

Abstract
The modeling of spatial discontinuities for problems such as surface recovery, segmentation, image reconstruction, and optical flow has been intensely studied in computer vision. While “line-process” models of discontinuities have received a great deal of attention, there has been recent interest in the use of robust statistical techniques to account for discontinuities. This paper unifies the two approaches. To achieve this we generalize the notion of a “line process” to that of an analog “outlier process” and show how a problem formulated in terms of outlier processes can be viewed in terms of robust statistics. We also characterize a class of robust statistical problems for which an equivalent outlier-process formulation exists and give a straightforward method for converting a robust estimation problem into an outlier-process formulation. We show how prior assumptions about the spatial structure of outliers can be expressed as constraints on the recovered analog outlier processes and how traditional continuation methods can be extended to the explicit outlier-process formulation. These results indicate that the outlier-process approach provides a general framework which subsumes the traditional line-process approaches as well as a wide class of robust estimation problems. Examples in surface reconstruction, image segmentation, and optical flow are presented to illustrate the use of outlier processes and to show how the relationship between outlier processes and robust statistics can be exploited. An appendix provides a catalog of common robust error norms and their equivalent outlier-process formulations.

pdf pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]


Thumb xl bildschirmfoto 2012 12 07 um 12.09.01
The robust estimation of multiple motions: Parametric and piecewise-smooth flow fields

Black, M. J., Anandan, P.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding, 63(1):75-104, January 1996 (article)

Abstract
Most approaches for estimating optical flow assume that, within a finite image region, only a single motion is present. This single motion assumption is violated in common situations involving transparency, depth discontinuities, independently moving objects, shadows, and specular reflections. To robustly estimate optical flow, the single motion assumption must be relaxed. This paper presents a framework based on robust estimation that addresses violations of the brightness constancy and spatial smoothness assumptions caused by multiple motions. We show how the robust estimation framework can be applied to standard formulations of the optical flow problem thus reducing their sensitivity to violations of their underlying assumptions. The approach has been applied to three standard techniques for recovering optical flow: area-based regression, correlation, and regularization with motion discontinuities. This paper focuses on the recovery of multiple parametric motion models within a region, as well as the recovery of piecewise-smooth flow fields, and provides examples with natural and synthetic image sequences.

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]