Computer spots behaviour patterns

European researchers, coordinated by the Computer Vision Centre (CVC) of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), have developed HERMES, a cognitive computational system claimed to recognise and predict human behaviour.

Applications for the system could include intelligent surveillance and accident prevention.

HERMES (Human Expressive Graphic Representation of Motion and their Evaluation in Sequences) analyses human behaviour based on video sequences captured at three different focus levels: the individual as a relatively distant object; the individual’s body at medium length so as to be able to analyse body postures; and the individual’s face, which allows a detailed study of facial expressions.

The information obtained is processed by computer vision and artificial intelligence algorithms, which permits the system to learn and recognise movement patterns.

HERMES is said to offer two important innovations in the field of computer vision. The first is the description of, in natural language, movement captured by the cameras, through simple and precise phrases that appear on the computer screen in real time, together with the frame number in which the action is taking place. The system uses an avatar to talk and describes this information in different languages.

The second innovation is the possibility to analyse and discover potentially unusual behaviour – based on the movements it recognises – and give off warning signals. For example, HERMES sends a signal to the control centre of an underground station after capturing the image of someone trying to cross the tracks, or alerts a medical centre if an elderly person living alone falls over.

The HERMES project, carried out as part of the 6th European Research Framework Programme, was coordinated by Juan José Villanueva, emeritus professor of the Department of Computer Science at UAB.

Project collaborators included researchers from Oxford University’s Active Vision Laboratory.