Modeling Human Behavior for Image Sequence Understanding and Generation

CVC has a new PhD on its record!

What is the thesis about?

The comprehension of animal behavior, especially human behavior, is one of the most ancient and studied problems since the beginning of civilization. The big list of factors that interact to determine a person action require the collaboration of different disciplines, such as psichology, biology, or sociology. In the last years the analysis of human behavior has received great attention also from the computer vision community, given the latest advances in the acquisition of human motion data from image sequences. Despite the increasing availability of that data, there still exists a gap towards obtaining a conceptual representation of the obtained observations. Human behavior analysis is based on a qualitative interpretation of the results, and therefore the assignment of concepts to quantitative data is linked to a certain ambiguity.

This thesis tackles the problem of obtaining a proper representation of human behavior in the contexts of computer vision and animation. On the one hand, a good behavior model should permit the recognition and explanation the observed activity in image sequences. On the other hand, such a model must allow the generation of new synthetic instances, which model the behavior of virtual agents.

First, we propose methods to automatically learn the models from observations. Given a set of quantitative results output by a vision system, a normal behavior model is learnt. This results provides a tool to determine the normality or abnormality of future observations. However, machine learning methods are unable to provide a richer description of the observations. We confront this problem by means of a new method that incorporates prior knowledge about the enviornment and about the expected behaviors. This framework, formed by the reasoning engine FMTL and the modeling tool SGT allows the generation of conceptual descriptions of activity in new image sequences. Finally, we demonstrate the suitability of the proposed framework to simulate behavior of virtual agents, which are introduced into real image sequences and interact with observed real agents, thereby easing the generation of augmented reality sequences.

The set of approaches presented in this Thesis has a growing set of potential applications. The analysis and description of behavior in image sequences has its principal application in the domain of smart video--surveillance, in order to detect suspicious or dangerous behaviors. Other applications include automatic sport commentaries, elderly monitoring, road traffic analysis, and the development of semantic video search engines. Alternatively, behavioral virtual agents allow to simulate accurate real situations, such as fires or crowds. Moreover, the inclusion of virtual agents into real image sequences has been widely deployed in the games and cinema industries.