Wristband camera captures entire body in 3D

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Researchers at Cornell University say they have developed a first-of-its-kind wristband that tracks the entire body posture in 3D. The wristband – called BodyTrak – uses a miniature camera and a customized deep neural network to track the full body pose with a single camera.

If integrated into future smartwatches, say the researchers, BodyTrak could be a game-changer in monitoring user body mechanics in physical activities where precision is critical.

“Since smartwatches already have a camera, technology like BodyTrak could understand the user’s pose and give real-time feedback,” says Cheng Zhang, assistant professor of information science and senior author of a paper on the project. “That’s handy, affordable and does not limit the user’s moving area.”

The researchers, who have previously developed and leveraged similar deep learning models to track hand and finger movements, facial expressions and even silent-speech recognition, say that the secret to BodyTrak is not only in the dime-sized camera on the wrist, but also the customized deep neural network behind it. This deep neural network – a method of AI that trains computers to learn from mistakes – reads the camera’s rudimentary images or “silhouettes” of the user’s body in motion and virtually re-creates 14 body poses in 3D and in real time.

In other words, say the researchers, the model accurately fills out and completes the partial images captured by the camera.

“Our research shows that we don’t need our body frames to be fully within camera view for body sensing,” says Hyunchul Lim, a doctoral student in the field of information science and the paper’s lead author. “If we are able to capture just a part of our bodies, that is a lot of information to infer to reconstruct the full body.”

Maintaining privacy for bystanders near someone wearing such a sensing device is a legitimate concern when developing these technologies. BodyTrak mitigates privacy concerns for bystanders since the camera is pointed toward the user’s body and collects only partial body images of the user.

The researchers say they also recognize that today’s smartwatches don’t yet have small or powerful enough cameras and adequate battery life to integrate full body sensing, but could in the future. For more, see “BodyTrak: Inferring Full-body Poses from Body Silhouettes Using a Miniature Camera on a Wristband.”


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