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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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Resolving 3D Human Pose Ambiguities with 3D Scene Constraints

Hassan, M., Choutas, V., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To understand and analyze human behavior, we need to capture humans moving in, and interacting with, the world. Most existing methods perform 3D human pose estimation without explicitly considering the scene. We observe however that the world constrains the body and vice-versa. To motivate this, we show that current 3D human pose estimation methods produce results that are not consistent with the 3D scene. Our key contribution is to exploit static 3D scene structure to better estimate human pose from monocular images. The method enforces Proximal Relationships with Object eXclusion and is called PROX. To test this, we collect a new dataset composed of 12 different 3D scenes and RGB sequences of 20 subjects moving in and interacting with the scenes. We represent human pose using the 3D human body model SMPL-X and extend SMPLify-X to estimate body pose using scene constraints. We make use of the 3D scene information by formulating two main constraints. The interpenetration constraint penalizes intersection between the body model and the surrounding 3D scene. The contact constraint encourages specific parts of the body to be in contact with scene surfaces if they are close enough in distance and orientation. For quantitative evaluation we capture a separate dataset with 180 RGB frames in which the ground-truth body pose is estimated using a motion-capture system. We show quantitatively that introducing scene constraints significantly reduces 3D joint error and vertex error. Our code and data are available for research at https://prox.is.tue.mpg.de.

pdf link (url) [BibTex]

pdf link (url) [BibTex]


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End-to-end Learning for Graph Decomposition

Song, J., Andres, B., Black, M., Hilliges, O., Tang, S.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Deep neural networks provide powerful tools for pattern recognition, while classical graph algorithms are widely used to solve combinatorial problems. In computer vision, many tasks combine elements of both pattern recognition and graph reasoning. In this paper, we study how to connect deep networks with graph decomposition into an end-to-end trainable framework. More specifically, the minimum cost multicut problem is first converted to an unconstrained binary cubic formulation where cycle consistency constraints are incorporated into the objective function. The new optimization problem can be viewed as a Conditional Random Field (CRF) in which the random variables are associated with the binary edge labels. Cycle constraints are introduced into the CRF as high-order potentials. A standard Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) provides the front-end features for the fully differentiable CRF. The parameters of both parts are optimized in an end-to-end manner. The efficacy of the proposed learning algorithm is demonstrated via experiments on clustering MNIST images and on the challenging task of real-world multi-people pose estimation.

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Three-D Safari: Learning to Estimate Zebra Pose, Shape, and Texture from Images "In the Wild"

Zuffi, S., Kanazawa, A., Berger-Wolf, T., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present the first method to perform automatic 3D pose, shape and texture capture of animals from images acquired in-the-wild. In particular, we focus on the problem of capturing 3D information about Grevy's zebras from a collection of images. The Grevy's zebra is one of the most endangered species in Africa, with only a few thousand individuals left. Capturing the shape and pose of these animals can provide biologists and conservationists with information about animal health and behavior. In contrast to research on human pose, shape and texture estimation, training data for endangered species is limited, the animals are in complex natural scenes with occlusion, they are naturally camouflaged, travel in herds, and look similar to each other. To overcome these challenges, we integrate the recent SMAL animal model into a network-based regression pipeline, which we train end-to-end on synthetically generated images with pose, shape, and background variation. Going beyond state-of-the-art methods for human shape and pose estimation, our method learns a shape space for zebras during training. Learning such a shape space from images using only a photometric loss is novel, and the approach can be used to learn shape in other settings with limited 3D supervision. Moreover, we couple 3D pose and shape prediction with the task of texture synthesis, obtaining a full texture map of the animal from a single image. We show that the predicted texture map allows a novel per-instance unsupervised optimization over the network features. This method, SMALST (SMAL with learned Shape and Texture) goes beyond previous work, which assumed manual keypoints and/or segmentation, to regress directly from pixels to 3D animal shape, pose and texture. Code and data are available at https://github.com/silviazuffi/smalst

pdf supmat Project Page [BibTex]


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Markerless Outdoor Human Motion Capture Using Multiple Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles

Saini, N., Price, E., Tallamraju, R., Enficiaud, R., Ludwig, R., Martinović, I., Ahmad, A., Black, M.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
Capturing human motion in natural scenarios means moving motion capture out of the lab and into the wild. Typical approaches rely on fixed, calibrated, cameras and reflective markers on the body, significantly limiting the motions that can be captured. To make motion capture truly unconstrained, we describe the first fully autonomous outdoor capture system based on flying vehicles. We use multiple micro-aerial-vehicles(MAVs), each equipped with a monocular RGB camera, an IMU, and a GPS receiver module. These detect the person, optimize their position, and localize themselves approximately. We then develop a markerless motion capture method that is suitable for this challenging scenario with a distant subject, viewed from above, with approximately calibrated and moving cameras. We combine multiple state-of-the-art 2D joint detectors with a 3D human body model and a powerful prior on human pose. We jointly optimize for 3D body pose and camera pose to robustly fit the 2D measurements. To our knowledge, this is the first successful demonstration of outdoor, full-body, markerless motion capture from autonomous flying vehicles.

Project Page [BibTex]


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AMASS: Archive of Motion Capture as Surface Shapes

Mahmood, N., Ghorbani, N., Troje, N. F., Pons-Moll, G., Black, M. J.

International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), October 2019 (conference)

Abstract
Large datasets are the cornerstone of recent advances in computer vision using deep learning. In contrast, existing human motion capture (mocap) datasets are small and the motions limited, hampering progress on learning models of human motion. While there are many different datasets available, they each use a different parameterization of the body, making it difficult to integrate them into a single meta dataset. To address this, we introduce AMASS, a large and varied database of human motion that unifies 15 different optical marker-based mocap datasets by representing them within a common framework and parameterization. We achieve this using a new method, MoSh++, that converts mocap data into realistic 3D human meshes represented by a rigged body model. Here we use SMPL [26], which is widely used and provides a standard skeletal representation as well as a fully rigged surface mesh. The method works for arbitrary marker-sets, while recovering soft-tissue dynamics and realistic hand motion. We evaluate MoSh++ and tune its hyper-parameters using a new dataset of 4D body scans that are jointly recorded with marker-based mocap. The consistent representation of AMASS makes it readily useful for animation, visualization, and generating training data for deep learning. Our dataset is significantly richer than previous human motion collections, having more than 40 hours of motion data, spanning over 300 subjects, more than 11000 motions, and is available for research at https://amass.is.tue.mpg.de/.

code pdf suppl arxiv Project Page video [BibTex]


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Learning to Train with Synthetic Humans

Hoffmann, D. T., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J., Tang, S.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), September 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Neural networks need big annotated datasets for training. However, manual annotation can be too expensive or even unfeasible for certain tasks, like multi-person 2D pose estimation with severe occlusions. A remedy for this is synthetic data with perfect ground truth. Here we explore two variations of synthetic data for this challenging problem; a dataset with purely synthetic humans, as well as a real dataset augmented with synthetic humans. We then study which approach better generalizes to real data, as well as the influence of virtual humans in the training loss. We observe that not all synthetic samples are equally informative for training, while the informative samples are different for each training stage. To exploit this observation, we employ an adversarial student-teacher framework; the teacher improves the student by providing the hardest samples for its current state as a challenge. Experiments show that this student-teacher framework outperforms all our baselines.

pdf suppl poster link (url) [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) [BibTex]


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The Influence of Visual Perspective on Body Size Estimation in Immersive Virtual Reality

Thaler, A., Pujades, S., Stefanucci, J. K., Creem-Regehr, S. H., Tesch, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J.

In ACM Symposium on Applied Perception, September 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The creation of realistic self-avatars that users identify with is important for many virtual reality applications. However, current approaches for creating biometrically plausible avatars that represent a particular individual require expertise and are time-consuming. We investigated the visual perception of an avatar’s body dimensions by asking males and females to estimate their own body weight and shape on a virtual body using a virtual reality avatar creation tool. In a method of adjustment task, the virtual body was presented in an HTC Vive head-mounted display either co-located with (first-person perspective) or facing (third-person perspective) the participants. Participants adjusted the body weight and dimensions of various body parts to match their own body shape and size. Both males and females underestimated their weight by 10-20% in the virtual body, but the estimates of the other body dimensions were relatively accurate and within a range of ±6%. There was a stronger influence of visual perspective on the estimates for males, but this effect was dependent on the amount of control over the shape of the virtual body, indicating that the results might be caused by where in the body the weight changes expressed themselves. These results suggest that this avatar creation tool could be used to allow participants to make a relatively accurate self-avatar in terms of adjusting body part dimensions, but not weight, and that the influence of visual perspective and amount of control needed over the body shape are likely gender-specific.

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [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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Motion Planning for Multi-Mobile-Manipulator Payload Transport Systems

Tallamraju, R., Salunkhe, D., Rajappa, S., Ahmad, A., Karlapalem, K., Shah, S. V.

In 15th IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE, August 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Competitive Collaboration: Joint Unsupervised Learning of Depth, Camera Motion, Optical Flow and Motion Segmentation

Ranjan, A., Jampani, V., Balles, L., Kim, K., Sun, D., Wulff, J., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the unsupervised learning of several interconnected problems in low-level vision: single view depth prediction, camera motion estimation, optical flow, and segmentation of a video into the static scene and moving regions. Our key insight is that these four fundamental vision problems are coupled through geometric constraints. Consequently, learning to solve them together simplifies the problem because the solutions can reinforce each other. We go beyond previous work by exploiting geometry more explicitly and segmenting the scene into static and moving regions. To that end, we introduce Competitive Collaboration, a framework that facilitates the coordinated training of multiple specialized neural networks to solve complex problems. Competitive Collaboration works much like expectation-maximization, but with neural networks that act as both competitors to explain pixels that correspond to static or moving regions, and as collaborators through a moderator that assigns pixels to be either static or independently moving. Our novel method integrates all these problems in a common framework and simultaneously reasons about the segmentation of the scene into moving objects and the static background, the camera motion, depth of the static scene structure, and the optical flow of moving objects. Our model is trained without any supervision and achieves state-of-the-art performance among joint unsupervised methods on all sub-problems.

Paper link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Local Temporal Bilinear Pooling for Fine-grained Action Parsing

Zhang, Y., Tang, S., Muandet, K., Jarvers, C., Neumann, H.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Fine-grained temporal action parsing is important in many applications, such as daily activity understanding, human motion analysis, surgical robotics and others requiring subtle and precise operations in a long-term period. In this paper we propose a novel bilinear pooling operation, which is used in intermediate layers of a temporal convolutional encoder-decoder net. In contrast to other work, our proposed bilinear pooling is learnable and hence can capture more complex local statistics than the conventional counterpart. In addition, we introduce exact lower-dimension representations of our bilinear forms, so that the dimensionality is reduced with neither information loss nor extra computation. We perform intensive experiments to quantitatively analyze our model and show the superior performances to other state-of-the-art work on various datasets.

Code video demo pdf link (url) [BibTex]

Code video demo pdf link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning to Regress 3D Face Shape and Expression from an Image without 3D Supervision

Sanyal, S., Bolkart, T., Feng, H., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The estimation of 3D face shape from a single image must be robust to variations in lighting, head pose, expression, facial hair, makeup, and occlusions. Robustness requires a large training set of in-the-wild images, which by construction, lack ground truth 3D shape. To train a network without any 2D-to-3D supervision, we present RingNet, which learns to compute 3D face shape from a single image. Our key observation is that an individual’s face shape is constant across images, regardless of expression, pose, lighting, etc. RingNet leverages multiple images of a person and automatically detected 2D face features. It uses a novel loss that encourages the face shape to be similar when the identity is the same and different for different people. We achieve invariance to expression by representing the face using the FLAME model. Once trained, our method takes a single image and outputs the parameters of FLAME, which can be readily animated. Additionally we create a new database of faces “not quite in-the-wild” (NoW) with 3D head scans and high-resolution images of the subjects in a wide variety of conditions. We evaluate publicly available methods and find that RingNet is more accurate than methods that use 3D supervision. The dataset, model, and results are available for research purposes.

code pdf preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning Joint Reconstruction of Hands and Manipulated Objects

Hasson, Y., Varol, G., Tzionas, D., Kalevatykh, I., Black, M. J., Laptev, I., Schmid, C.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Estimating hand-object manipulations is essential for interpreting and imitating human actions. Previous work has made significant progress towards reconstruction of hand poses and object shapes in isolation. Yet, reconstructing hands and objects during manipulation is a more challenging task due to significant occlusions of both the hand and object. While presenting challenges, manipulations may also simplify the problem since the physics of contact restricts the space of valid hand-object configurations. For example, during manipulation, the hand and object should be in contact but not interpenetrate. In this work, we regularize the joint reconstruction of hands and objects with manipulation constraints. We present an end-to-end learnable model that exploits a novel contact loss that favors physically plausible hand-object constellations. Our approach improves grasp quality metrics over baselines, using RGB images as input. To train and evaluate the model, we also propose a new large-scale synthetic dataset, ObMan, with hand-object manipulations. We demonstrate the transferability of ObMan-trained models to real data.

pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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Expressive Body Capture: 3D Hands, Face, and Body from a Single Image

Pavlakos, G., Choutas, V., Ghorbani, N., Bolkart, T., Osman, A. A. A., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To facilitate the analysis of human actions, interactions and emotions, we compute a 3D model of human body pose, hand pose, and facial expression from a single monocular image. To achieve this, we use thousands of 3D scans to train a new, unified, 3D model of the human body, SMPL-X, that extends SMPL with fully articulated hands and an expressive face. Learning to regress the parameters of SMPL-X directly from images is challenging without paired images and 3D ground truth. Consequently, we follow the approach of SMPLify, which estimates 2D features and then optimizes model parameters to fit the features. We improve on SMPLify in several significant ways: (1) we detect 2D features corresponding to the face, hands, and feet and fit the full SMPL-X model to these; (2) we train a new neural network pose prior using a large MoCap dataset; (3) we define a new interpenetration penalty that is both fast and accurate; (4) we automatically detect gender and the appropriate body models (male, female, or neutral); (5) our PyTorch implementation achieves a speedup of more than 8x over Chumpy. We use the new method, SMPLify-X, to fit SMPL-X to both controlled images and images in the wild. We evaluate 3D accuracy on a new curated dataset comprising 100 images with pseudo ground-truth. This is a step towards automatic expressive human capture from monocular RGB data. The models, code, and data are available for research purposes at https://smpl-x.is.tue.mpg.de.

video code pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Capture, Learning, and Synthesis of 3D Speaking Styles

Cudeiro, D., Bolkart, T., Laidlaw, C., Ranjan, A., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Audio-driven 3D facial animation has been widely explored, but achieving realistic, human-like performance is still unsolved. This is due to the lack of available 3D datasets, models, and standard evaluation metrics. To address this, we introduce a unique 4D face dataset with about 29 minutes of 4D scans captured at 60 fps and synchronized audio from 12 speakers. We then train a neural network on our dataset that factors identity from facial motion. The learned model, VOCA (Voice Operated Character Animation) takes any speech signal as input—even speech in languages other than English—and realistically animates a wide range of adult faces. Conditioning on subject labels during training allows the model to learn a variety of realistic speaking styles. VOCA also provides animator controls to alter speaking style, identity-dependent facial shape, and pose (i.e. head, jaw, and eyeball rotations) during animation. To our knowledge, VOCA is the only realistic 3D facial animation model that is readily applicable to unseen subjects without retargeting. This makes VOCA suitable for tasks like in-game video, virtual reality avatars, or any scenario in which the speaker, speech, or language is not known in advance. We make the dataset and model available for research purposes at http://voca.is.tue.mpg.de.

code Project Page video paper [BibTex]

code Project Page video paper [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]


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Resisting Adversarial Attacks using Gaussian Mixture Variational Autoencoders

Ghosh, P., Losalka, A., Black, M. J.

In Proc. AAAI, 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Susceptibility of deep neural networks to adversarial attacks poses a major theoretical and practical challenge. All efforts to harden classifiers against such attacks have seen limited success till now. Two distinct categories of samples against which deep neural networks are vulnerable, ``adversarial samples" and ``fooling samples", have been tackled separately so far due to the difficulty posed when considered together. In this work, we show how one can defend against them both under a unified framework. Our model has the form of a variational autoencoder with a Gaussian mixture prior on the latent variable, such that each mixture component corresponds to a single class. We show how selective classification can be performed using this model, thereby causing the adversarial objective to entail a conflict. The proposed method leads to the rejection of adversarial samples instead of misclassification, while maintaining high precision and recall on test data. It also inherently provides a way of learning a selective classifier in a semi-supervised scenario, which can similarly resist adversarial attacks. We further show how one can reclassify the detected adversarial samples by iterative optimization.

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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From Variational to Deterministic Autoencoders

Ghosh*, P., Sajjadi*, M. S. M., Vergari, A., Black, M. J., Schölkopf, B.

2019, *equal contribution (conference) Submitted

Abstract
Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) provide a theoretically-backed framework for deep generative models. However, they often produce “blurry” images, which is linked to their training objective. Sampling in the most popular implementation, the Gaussian VAE, can be interpreted as simply injecting noise to the input of a deterministic decoder. In practice, this simply enforces a smooth latent space structure. We challenge the adoption of the full VAE framework on this specific point in favor of a simpler, deterministic one. Specifically, we investigate how substituting stochasticity with other explicit and implicit regularization schemes can lead to a meaningful latent space without having to force it to conform to an arbitrarily chosen prior. To retrieve a generative mechanism for sampling new data points, we propose to employ an efficient ex-post density estimation step that can be readily adopted both for the proposed deterministic autoencoders as well as to improve sample quality of existing VAEs. We show in a rigorous empirical study that regularized deterministic autoencoding achieves state-of-the-art sample quality on the common MNIST, CIFAR-10 and CelebA datasets.

arXiv [BibTex]

2008


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Learning Optical Flow

Sun, D., Roth, S., Lewis, J., Black, M. J.

In European Conf. on Computer Vision, ECCV, 5304, pages: 83-97, LNCS, (Editors: Forsyth, D. and Torr, P. and Zisserman, A.), Springer-Verlag, October 2008 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Assumptions of brightness constancy and spatial smoothness underlie most optical flow estimation methods. In contrast to standard heuristic formulations, we learn a statistical model of both brightness constancy error and the spatial properties of optical flow using image sequences with associated ground truth flow fields. The result is a complete probabilistic model of optical flow. Specifically, the ground truth enables us to model how the assumption of brightness constancy is violated in naturalistic sequences, resulting in a probabilistic model of "brightness inconstancy". We also generalize previous high-order constancy assumptions, such as gradient constancy, by modeling the constancy of responses to various linear filters in a high-order random field framework. These filters are free variables that can be learned from training data. Additionally we study the spatial structure of the optical flow and how motion boundaries are related to image intensity boundaries. Spatial smoothness is modeled using a Steerable Random Field, where spatial derivatives of the optical flow are steered by the image brightness structure. These models provide a statistical motivation for previous methods and enable the learning of all parameters from training data. All proposed models are quantitatively compared on the Middlebury flow dataset.

pdf Springerlink version [BibTex]

2008

pdf Springerlink version [BibTex]


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GNU Octave Manual Version 3

John W. Eaton, David Bateman, Soren Hauberg

Network Theory Ltd., October 2008 (book)

Publishers site GNU Octave [BibTex]

Publishers site GNU Octave [BibTex]


no image
Probabilistic Roadmap Method and Real Time Gait Changing Technique Implementation for Travel Time Optimization on a Designed Six-legged Robot

Ahmad, A., Dhang, N.

In pages: 1-5, October 2008 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents design and development of a six legged robot with a total of 12 degrees of freedom, two in each limb and then an implementation of 'obstacle and undulated terrain-based' probabilistic roadmap method for motion planning of this hexaped which is able to negotiate large undulations as obstacles. The novelty in this implementation is that, it doesnt require the complete view of the robot's configuration space at any given time during the traversal. It generates a map of the area that is in visibility range and finds the best suitable point in that field of view to make it as the next node of the algorithm. A particular category of undulations which are small enough are automatically 'run-over' as a part of the terrain and not considered as obstacles. The traversal between the nodes is optimized by taking the shortest path and the most optimum gait at that instance which the hexaped can assume. This is again a novel approach to have a real time gait changing technique to optimize the travel time. The hexaped limb can swing in the robot's X-Y plane and the lower link of the limb can move in robot's Z plane by an implementation of a four-bar mechanism. A GUI based server 'Yellow Ladybird' eventually which is the name of the hexaped, is made for real time monitoring and communicating to it the final destination co-ordinates.

link (url) [BibTex]


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The naked truth: Estimating body shape under clothing,

Balan, A., Black, M. J.

In European Conf. on Computer Vision, ECCV, 5304, pages: 15-29, LNCS, (Editors: D. Forsyth and P. Torr and A. Zisserman), Springer-Verlag, Marseilles, France, October 2008 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a method to estimate the detailed 3D shape of a person from images of that person wearing clothing. The approach exploits a model of human body shapes that is learned from a database of over 2000 range scans. We show that the parameters of this shape model can be recovered independently of body pose. We further propose a generalization of the visual hull to account for the fact that observed silhouettes of clothed people do not provide a tight bound on the true 3D shape. With clothed subjects, different poses provide different constraints on the possible underlying 3D body shape. We consequently combine constraints across pose to more accurately estimate 3D body shape in the presence of occluding clothing. Finally we use the recovered 3D shape to estimate the gender of subjects and then employ gender-specific body models to refine our shape estimates. Results on a novel database of thousands of images of clothed and "naked" subjects, as well as sequences from the HumanEva dataset, suggest the method may be accurate enough for biometric shape analysis in video.

pdf pdf with higher quality images Springerlink version YouTube video on applications data slides [BibTex]

pdf pdf with higher quality images Springerlink version YouTube video on applications data slides [BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2012 06 06 at 11.28.04 am
Infinite Kernel Learning

Gehler, P., Nowozin, S.

(178), Max Planck Institute, octomber 2008 (techreport)

project page pdf [BibTex]

project page pdf [BibTex]


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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]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher PubMed [BibTex]


Thumb xl thumb screen shot 2012 10 06 at 12.23.39 pm
Dynamic time warping for binocular hand tracking and reconstruction

Romero, J., Kragic, D., Kyrki, V., Argyros, A.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation,ICRA, pages: 2289 -2294, May 2008 (inproceedings)

Pdf [BibTex]

Pdf [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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Incremental nonparametric Bayesian regression

Wood, F., Grollman, D. H., Heller, K. A., Jenkins, O. C., Black, M. J.

(CS-08-07), Brown University, Department of Computer Science, 2008 (techreport)

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [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]


Thumb xl thumb screen shot 2012 10 06 at 12.28.24 pm
Simultaneous Visual Recognition of Manipulation Actions and Manipulated Objects

Kjellström, H., Romero, J., Martinez, D., Kragic, D.

In European Conference on Computer Vision, ECCV, pages: 336-349, 2008 (inproceedings)

Pdf [BibTex]

Pdf [BibTex]


no image
Tuning analysis of motor cortical neurons in a person with paralysis during performance of visually instructed cursor control tasks

Kim, S., Simeral, J. D., Hochberg, L. R., Truccolo, W., Donoghue, J., Friehs, G. M., Black, M. J.

2008 Abstract Viewer and Itinerary Planner, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC, 2008, Online (conference)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2012 06 06 at 11.28.04 am
Infinite Kernel Learning

Gehler, P., Nowozin, S.

In Proceedings of NIPS 2008 Workshop on "Kernel Learning: Automatic Selection of Optimal Kernels", 2008 (inproceedings)

project page pdf [BibTex]

project page 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]


Thumb xl thumb screen shot 2012 10 06 at 12.29.08 pm
Visual Recognition of Grasps for Human-to-Robot Mapping

Kjellström, H., Romero, J., Kragic, D.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS, pages: 3192-3199, 2008 (inproceedings)

Pdf [BibTex]

Pdf [BibTex]


no image
More than two years of intracortically-based cursor control via a neural interface system

Hochberg, L. R., Simeral, J. D., Kim, S., Stein, J., Friehs, G. M., Black, M. J., Donoghue, J. P.

2008 Abstract Viewer and Itinerary Planner, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC, 2008, Online (conference)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Decoding of reach and grasp from MI population spiking activity using a low-dimensional model of hand and arm posture

Yadollahpour, P., Shakhnarovich, G., Vargas-Irwin, C., Donoghue, J. P., Black, M. J.

2008 Abstract Viewer and Itinerary Planner, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC, 2008, Online (conference)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Neural activity in the motor cortex of humans with tetraplegia

Donoghue, J., Simeral, J., Black, M., Kim, S., Truccolo, W., Hochberg, L.

AREADNE Research in Encoding And Decoding of Neural Ensembles, June, Santorini, Greece, 2008 (conference)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Nonrigid Structure from Motion in Trajectory Space

Akhter, I., Sheikh, Y., Khan, S., Kanade, T.

In Neural Information Processing Systems, 1(2):41-48, 2008 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Existing approaches to nonrigid structure from motion assume that the instantaneous 3D shape of a deforming object is a linear combination of basis shapes, which have to be estimated anew for each video sequence. In contrast, we propose that the evolving 3D structure be described by a linear combination of basis trajectories. The principal advantage of this approach is that we do not need to estimate any basis vectors during computation. We show that generic bases over trajectories, such as the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) basis, can be used to compactly describe most real motions. This results in a significant reduction in unknowns, and corresponding stability in estimation. We report empirical performance, quantitatively using motion capture data, and qualitatively on several video sequences exhibiting nonrigid motions including piece-wise rigid motion, partially nonrigid motion (such as a facial expression), and highly nonrigid motion (such as a person dancing).

pdf project page [BibTex]

pdf project page [BibTex]


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Combined discriminative and generative articulated pose and non-rigid shape estimation

Sigal, L., Balan, A., Black, M. J.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 20, NIPS-2007, pages: 1337–1344, MIT Press, 2008 (inproceedings)

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


no image
Reconstructing reach and grasp actions using neural population activity from Primary Motor Cortex

Vargas-Irwin, C. E., Yadollahpour, P., Shakhnarovich, G., Black, M. J., Donoghue, J. P.

2008 Abstract Viewer and Itinerary Planner, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC, 2008, Online (conference)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2003


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Image statistics and anisotropic diffusion

Scharr, H., Black, M. J., Haussecker, H.

In Int. Conf. on Computer Vision, pages: 840-847, October 2003 (inproceedings)

pdf [BibTex]

2003

pdf [BibTex]


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A switching Kalman filter model for the motor cortical coding of hand motion

Wu, W., Black, M. J., Mumford, D., Gao, Y., Bienenstock, E., Donoghue, J. P.

In Proc. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, pages: 2083-2086, September 2003 (inproceedings)

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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Learning the statistics of people in images and video

Sidenbladh, H., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 54(1-3):183-209, August 2003 (article)

Abstract
This paper address the problems of modeling the appearance of humans and distinguishing human appearance from the appearance of general scenes. We seek a model of appearance and motion that is generic in that it accounts for the ways in which people's appearance varies and, at the same time, is specific enough to be useful for tracking people in natural scenes. Given a 3D model of the person projected into an image we model the likelihood of observing various image cues conditioned on the predicted locations and orientations of the limbs. These cues are taken to be steered filter responses corresponding to edges, ridges, and motion-compensated temporal differences. Motivated by work on the statistics of natural scenes, the statistics of these filter responses for human limbs are learned from training images containing hand-labeled limb regions. Similarly, the statistics of the filter responses in general scenes are learned to define a “background” distribution. The likelihood of observing a scene given a predicted pose of a person is computed, for each limb, using the likelihood ratio between the learned foreground (person) and background distributions. Adopting a Bayesian formulation allows cues to be combined in a principled way. Furthermore, the use of learned distributions obviates the need for hand-tuned image noise models and thresholds. The paper provides a detailed analysis of the statistics of how people appear in scenes and provides a connection between work on natural image statistics and the Bayesian tracking of people.

pdf pdf from publisher code DOI [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher code DOI [BibTex]


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A framework for robust subspace learning

De la Torre, F., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 54(1-3):117-142, August 2003 (article)

Abstract
Many computer vision, signal processing and statistical problems can be posed as problems of learning low dimensional linear or multi-linear models. These models have been widely used for the representation of shape, appearance, motion, etc., in computer vision applications. Methods for learning linear models can be seen as a special case of subspace fitting. One draw-back of previous learning methods is that they are based on least squares estimation techniques and hence fail to account for “outliers” which are common in realistic training sets. We review previous approaches for making linear learning methods robust to outliers and present a new method that uses an intra-sample outlier process to account for pixel outliers. We develop the theory of Robust Subspace Learning (RSL) for linear models within a continuous optimization framework based on robust M-estimation. The framework applies to a variety of linear learning problems in computer vision including eigen-analysis and structure from motion. Several synthetic and natural examples are used to develop and illustrate the theory and applications of robust subspace learning in computer vision.

pdf code pdf from publisher Project Page [BibTex]

pdf code pdf from publisher Project Page [BibTex]


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Guest editorial: Computational vision at Brown

Black, M. J., Kimia, B.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 54(1-3):5-11, August 2003 (article)

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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Robust parameterized component analysis: Theory and applications to 2D facial appearance models

De la Torre, F., Black, M. J.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding, 91(1-2):53-71, July 2003 (article)

Abstract
Principal component analysis (PCA) has been successfully applied to construct linear models of shape, graylevel, and motion in images. In particular, PCA has been widely used to model the variation in the appearance of people's faces. We extend previous work on facial modeling for tracking faces in video sequences as they undergo significant changes due to facial expressions. Here we consider person-specific facial appearance models (PSFAM), which use modular PCA to model complex intra-person appearance changes. Such models require aligned visual training data; in previous work, this has involved a time consuming and error-prone hand alignment and cropping process. Instead, the main contribution of this paper is to introduce parameterized component analysis to learn a subspace that is invariant to affine (or higher order) geometric transformations. The automatic learning of a PSFAM given a training image sequence is posed as a continuous optimization problem and is solved with a mixture of stochastic and deterministic techniques achieving sub-pixel accuracy. We illustrate the use of the 2D PSFAM model with preliminary experiments relevant to applications including video-conferencing and avatar animation.

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]