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Quaternion Watershed Transform

in Segmentation of Motion Capture Data

Adam Świtoński1(B) , Agnieszka Michalczuk1 , Henryk Josiński1 ,


and Konrad Wojciechowski2
1
Institute of Informatics, Silesian University of Technology,
Akademicka 16, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland
{adam.switonski,agnieszka.michalczuk,henryk.josinski}@polsl.pl
2
Research and Development Center, Polish-Japanese Academy of Information
Technology, Aleja Legionow 2, 41-902 Bytom, Poland
kwojciechowski@pja.edu.pl
http://www.polsl.pl, http://bytom.pja.edu.pl

Abstract. The novel approach for segmentation of motion capture data


is proposed. It utilizes hierarchical watershed transform for time series
containing unit quaternions which describe rotations of human skele-
ton joints as well as their angular velocities. To approximate gradient
magnitudes of subsequent time instants, aggregated geodesic distance
on hypersphere S 3 for preceding and following quaternions is computed.
The introduced segmentation method was applied to gait analysis. The
highly precise motion capture data, registered in a human motion lab
(HML), were used. A fully automatic watershed transform with detec-
tion of catchment basins as well as a marker controlled one were investi-
gated. The obtained results are promising. By selecting proper hierarchy
of a segmentation or by specifying adequate markers, it is even feasi-
ble to divide gait cycle into consecutive steps. The segmentation can be
improved in respect to a considered problem, if only selected joints are
taken into account by watershed transform.

Keywords: Motion capture · Watershed transform ·


Motion segmentation · Gait analysis · Unit quaternions

1 Introduction

The most precise measurements of human motion are obtained by motion cap-
ture systems. During an acquisition markers attached on human body are tracked
by set of calibrated cameras. Their 3D coordinates are reconstructed, which
allows to determine orientations of bone segments. Thus, skeleton based motion
capture data are represented by time series of poses described by joints rotations
as well as global location and orientation of a skeleton.
In baseline approach of motion analysis Euler angles are utilized for cod-
ing 3D rotations of human joints. They contain data of three successive basic
c Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
N. T. Nguyen et al. (Eds.): ACIIDS 2019, LNAI 11432, pp. 567–578, 2019.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-14802-7_49
568 A. Świtoński et al.

rotations performed around axes of local coordinate systems. Euler angles are
intuitive, especially in case of medical diagnosis. They can correspond to flex-
ion/extention, abduction/adduction and rotation of bone segments which are
commonly analyzed in medical assessment of motion data. However, processing
of rotations described by three clearly uncorrelated values is also troublesome.
It can lead to improper results, because there is much more difficult to take into
account mutual relationships between basic rotations in such the case. Further-
more, Euler angles suffer gimbal lock problem.
It justifies application of unit quaternions which are broadly used in computer
graphics, also in motion processing and analysis. Quaternions provide compact
angle-axis representation of 3D rotations performed by α angle about fixed axis
described by vector u = (u1 , u2 , u3 ).
α α
q = cos + (u1 · i + u2 · j + u3 · k) · sin (1)
2 2
There is an algebra defined for quaternions with selected operators corre-
sponding to transformations of 3D rotations. Moreover, they are efficient in
integration over time. However, the most important advantage of unit quater-
nions over Euler angles is related to the simultaneous and coherent processing
of complete rotational data. It can have an impact on obtained results.
Segmentation is process of data division into disjoint multiply partitions
which collectively cover them. It simplifies the representation – data became
easier for interpretation, further processing and recognition. In case of motion
data segmentation can be useful in detection of short lasting specific movements
or phases as well as in generic feature extraction for the sake of classification
problems.
The current paper concerns issues of segmentation of motion data. On the
basis of our previous experiences on gait identification [13,14] a new method
which utilizes unit quaternions and watershed transform is introduced.
The following sections are devoted to: a short review of state of the arts
methods focused on segmentation of motion data, explanation of different vari-
ants of watershed transform used in computer vision as well as descriptions of
the proposed methods and obtained preliminary results.

2 Related Work

There are numerous studies on segmentation of motion capture data. Barbič et al.
[4] introduced three highly cited approaches. In the first one, on the basis of selected
number of principal components reconstruction of consecutive motion frames is
carried on. Boundaries between detected segments are denoted by time instants
of sudden increase of reconstruction error. In another variant Probabilistic Prin-
cipal Components Analysis is used to model the first K frames of time series. It
allows to assess fitness of frames K+1 through K+T to estimated Gaussian dis-
tribution. Mahalanobis distance is employed to distinguish new partitions. In the
third approach Gaussian Mixture Models are utilized to cluster entire sequence.
Quaternion Watershed Transform in Segmentation of Motion Capture Data 569

Time series are divided into time instants of consecutive frames belonging to dif-
ferent Gaussian distributions. In all methods unit quaternion are employed to rep-
resent rotational data. However in fact they only form four dimensional vectors.
Thus, it is difficult to point any advantages over the case of Euler angle usage.
Technique proposed by Bouchard and Badler [8] employs neural networks
trained on the basis manual segmentation and input attributes corresponding
to specified kinematic features of selected markers. To reduce oversegmentation,
temporary aggregation of detected boundaries in local windows of 25 s width is
carried on. The peaks are determined and they point proper segments. Super-
vised machine learning is also applied by Arikan et al. [2] – poses represented
by coordinate vector are classified as belonging to selected simple motions e.g.
running, walking. Support Vector Machines are used. The coordinate vector con-
tains joints positions in one second local windows centered in reference to the
classified pose.
The method which utilizes unit quaternions and unsupervised learning is
proposed by Wu et al. [16]. Joint rotations are transformed into tangent spaces
on the basis of logarithm operator. It allows to calculate similarity matrix by
using baseline Euclidean metric. Further, poses are clustered by the normalized
cut model and the weighted kernel k-means. In the postprocessing filtering which
removes some isolated short segments is carried on. Finally, so called category
strings containing sequences of subsequent segments are formed and analyzed to
reduce number of obtained partitions.
Xie et al. [17] transforms motion capture data into low dimensional embed-
ding on the basis of Laplacian Eigenmap algorithm. The proper segmentation
is realized by extreme tracking of amplitudes of characteristic curve. Quite sim-
ilar method is presented by Yang et al. [18]. In successive steps dimensionality
of pose space is reduced by Principal Component Analysis, velocity vectors are
calculated and clustered according to cosine distance. In recently proposed app-
roach Arn et al. [3] employ generalized curvature analysis for curves residing in
n-dimensional pose space.
Lin and Kulic [12] for initial partitioning analyze velocity features such as
velocity peaks and zero velocity crossings. In the second stage Hidden Markov
Models are employed to precisely modify segments from the initially identified
candidates. In another segmentation approach Yang et al. [19] utilize Fisher’s
optimal partitioning algorithm for multidimensional time series transformed into
matrix form.
There are also examples of proposed segmentation methods targeted to
motion data registered by inertial measurement units [1,11].
Summarizing, the problem of motion data segmentation is broadly studied in
the literature, there are plenty of techniques introduced. The most of the appli-
cations are related to detection of selected activities in long lasting recordings.
However, there is no one general method applicable to all problems. Moreover,
some of them require training data and other are only semiautomatic. Further-
more, there is no study strictly focused on gait analysis. Therefore, conducting
research on gait segmentation is justified. Still new techniques and applications
can be proposed.
570 A. Świtoński et al.

3 Watershed Transform
The watershed transform originally introduced by Bouchard and Badler [5] has
still numerous applications in 2D and 3D image segmentation [9,10,15]. The
transform determines boundaries between segments in locations with the high-
est gradient magnitude. The markers of successive segments refer to homoge-
neous regions which are pointed by local minima of the gradient magnitude. It
is analogous to flooding of 3D surface – barriers are built in places where water
of different catchment basins is met.
In the implementation of watershed transform priority queues are utilized [7].
The priorities relate to gradient magnitudes of image pixels. In the initial step
markers are extracted, labeled and inserted to the queue. In a baseline approach
markers correspond to regional minima of the gradient. Further, the process is
iterated until the queue is not empty. In the single iteration, the first element x
from the queue is extracted and every, so far unlabelled neighbor of x is assigned
with the same label as x and inserted to the queue.

(a) Input image (b) Gradient magnitude (c) Watershed lines

Fig. 1. Watershed segmentation (Color figure online)

The example segmentation is visualized in Fig. 1. For the input image


from Fig. 1(a) gradient magnitude on the basis on Sobel masks is calculated
(Fig. 1(b)). The boundaries between obtained regions are marked with blue lines
in Fig. 1(c). The watershed transformation suffers oversegmentation which means
numerous, insignificant and small obtained regions. They do not correspond to
real objects of the image. Oversegmentation is caused by slight, invisible changes
of pixel values. It results in frequent, insignificant local minima of the gradient
image and numerous regions extracted.
To reduce oversegmentation effect, some kind of region merging can be car-
ried on. It can be realized by hierarchical watershed approaches. The most well
known is the waterfall algorithm [6]. Its key idea is to apply geodesic reconstruc-
tion of gradient magnitude image from watershed lines of the previous segmenta-
tion. The process is iterated through successive hierarchies till regions are large
enough. The working of hierarchical watershed segmentation is shown in Fig. 2 –
for hierarchy 4 (Fig. 2(b)) still oversegmentation occurs, it is better for hierarchy
6 (Fig. 2(c)), but fitting regions into real image objects is not very precise.
Quaternion Watershed Transform in Segmentation of Motion Capture Data 571

(a) Hierarchy 2 (b) Hierarchy 4 (c) Hierarchy 6

Fig. 2. Hierarchical watershed segmentation (Color figure online)

In another variant to reduce oversegmentation, marker controlled watershed


transformation can be applied [7]. It means, instead of local minima, manually
specified markers are utilized to initially label image points. In this case segmen-
tation is only semiautomatic. Example results are presented in Fig. 3. Markers
are labeled with red and green colors. Similarly to previous visualizations from
Figs. 1 and 2 contours of extracted segments are drawn with blue color. If mark-
ers are sufficient as in Fig. 3(a) and in Fig. 3(b), obtained segments accurately
correspond to real image objects – the selected swan and its surroundings. How-
ever, if they do not indicate areas with different color tones of the detected
objects as in Fig. 3(c), the achieved results are unsatisfactory.

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 3. Marker controlled watershed segmentation (Color figure online)

4 The Proposed Segmentation Method


The watershed transformation is directly applicable for any n-dimensional data.
The dimensionality has an impact on the way how neighborhood is determined
for analyzed points. In case of motion capture data, segmentation is carried on
along time domain. Thus, instead of two dimensional images, time series are ana-
lyzed. To establish neighborhood for successive poses, preceding and following
time instants are taken.
However, there is one more challenge which has to be faced. It is the way
how gradient magnitudes GM ag in time instant t is approximated. In similar
572 A. Świtoński et al.

approach to commonly used in image processing Sobel or Prewitt operators,


absolute difference dP between preceding and following poses can be calculated.

GM ag(t) = dP (Pt+1 , Pt−1 ) (2)

As mentioned before, time instants of motion capture data are described by


rotations of subsequent joints as well as global orientation and translation of a
skeleton. The translation is strictly related to the place of acquisition, it does
not give valuable information about human movements and it is not usually
taken into account during analysis. Thus, dissimilarity dP , stated to be absolute
difference, of poses P1 and P2 can be calculated as total distance between their
corresponding rotations:

d(P1 , P2 ) = dR (P1 (rotation), P2 (rotation)) (3)
rotation

The method dR which compares two rotations has to be established. If Euler


angles (α, β, γ) are applied to represent rotations baseline Euclidean (dEuc ) or
Manhattan metrics which take into account periodicity of angle range can be
used.

dEuc ((α1 , β1 , γ1 ), (α2 , β2 , γ2 )) = Δ(α1 , α2 )2 + Δ(β1 , β2 )2 + Δ(γ1 , γ2 )2 (4)

where Δ(angle1 , angle2 ) = π − ||angle1 − angle2 | − π|


It is not so straightforward in case of unit quaternions. The most often used
dissimilarity function calculates geodesic distance dgeodesic on hypersphere S 3 ,
which covers all possible rotations. It utilizes dot product q1 , q2  of quaternion
vectors:
1
dgeodesic (q1 , q2 ) = · arccos(q1 , q2 ) (5)
π
In another variant quaternions transformed into tangent space at the identity
on the basis of logarithm operator can be compared by Euclidean or Manhattan
metrics [13]. The distance can also be approximated by the scalar part of product
of the first quaternion and conjugate second quaternion as presented in [13].
Moreover, it is worthwhile to consider to analyze only the most significant
joints for segmented activities. In such a case pose description is reduced to
selected rotations. It not only decreases computational expensiveness, but pri-
marily it focuses on joints performing movements in analyzed activities and
reduces influence of the remaining joints. Finally, it may improve the perfor-
mance of segmentation.
In motion analysis dynamics of movements expressed by angular velocities is
frequently assessed. Thus, it seems that also segmentation which utilizes dynam-
ics can lead to satisfactory results. It would extract partitions obtained on the
basis of different rules. In case of watershed transform barriers would be built in
sudden changes of angular velocities corresponding to local maxima of angular
accelerations.
Quaternion Watershed Transform in Segmentation of Motion Capture Data 573

To segment motion data on the basis of dynamics of joint and body move-
ments a method to approximate angular velocities has to be applied. Simi-
larly to [13] differential filtering of time domain is chosen. In case of Euler
angles Δ(anglest , anglet−1 ) defined in Eq. (4) for rotations from consecutive
time instants t and t − 1 is calculated:

vt = Δ(anglet , anglet−1 ) (6)

For unit quaternions multiplication with the preceding conjugate quaternion


is computed:
vtquat = qt · qt−1 (7)
The further segmentation is analogous as in case of raw rotational data.
Time series described by unit quaternions or n-dimensional vectors with scalar
attributes are processed.
The introduced segmentation approaches utilize both baseline watershed
transformation which detects catchment basins as well as hierarchical and marker
controlled ones.

5 Results and Conclusions

The proposed segmentation methods were applied to human gait analysis.


Motion capture data were used. The acquisition took place in Human Motion
Laboratory of Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology (HML of
PJAIT http://bytom.pja.edu.pl) equipped with Vicon hardware and software.
The default skeleton model visualized in Fig. 4 of Vicon Blade was chosen. It
means poses are described by 23 3D rotations of successive joints and skeleton
orientation as well as global translation.

Fig. 4. Skeleton model

Segmentation concerns main cycles containing two middle adjacent steps per-
formed by left and right lower limbs and analyzes only rotational data. To extract
main cycles from gait sequences tracking of extremes of interaankle distances is
574 A. Świtoński et al.

carried on, as described in [13,14]. The quaternion geodesic distance function


from Eq. (5) is taken to compute gradient magnitudes.
In the implementation watershed lines utilized in hierarchical segmentation
are marked only at the border of segments with higher value of gradient magni-
tude than value at the border of neighboring segment. Moreover, it is assumed
that if there is no local minima of gradient magnitude, single segment covering
complete time series is extracted.

0.45
60 Gradient magnitude
0.4 Watershed lines
Catchment basins
50
0.35

Gradient magnitude
40 0.3
OY [in]

0.25
30
0.2
20
0.15

10 0.1

0.05
0
0
-40 -30 -20 -10 0 10 20 30 40 20 40 60 80 100
OZ [in] Time [10ms]

(a) Complete rotational data


0.2
Gradient magnitude
60
0.18 Watershed lines
Catchment basins
50 0.16
Gradient magnitude

0.14
40
0.12
OY [in]

30 0.1

20 0.08

0.06
10
0.04
0 0.02

0
-40 -20 0 20 40 20 40 60 80 100
OZ [in] Time [10ms]

(b) Rotational data of lower and upper limbs

Gradient magnitude
0.2 Watershed lines
Catchment basins
Gradient magnitude

0.15

0.1

0.05

0
20 40 60 80 100
Time [10ms]

(c) Angular velocities of all joints and skeleton

Fig. 5. Watershed segmentation of randomly selected gait instance (Color figure online)

The working of watershed segmentation is depicted in Figs. 5, 6 and 7. On


the left sides gait main cycles are visualized by 20 poses arranged uniformly in
time domain. YZ view is chosen, where OZ axis corresponds to the gait direc-
tion and OY to up and down orientation. The poses of successive partitions are
labeled with different colors. The diagrams on the right side represent gradi-
ent magnitudes in consecutive time instants with determined catchment basins
or manually pointed markers. In both visualizations watershed lines separating
extracted segments are drawn with a blue color.
Quaternion Watershed Transform in Segmentation of Motion Capture Data 575

Experiments were preformed in respect to data of all joints and orientations


of a skeleton as well as for selected parameters of lower (LeftUpLeg, RightUpLeg,
LeftLeg and RightLeg) and upper (LeftShoulder, RightShoulder, LeftArm and
RightArm) limbs, that are mainly responsible for gait locomotion and stability.
Both raw rotational data and angular velocities computed on the basis of formula
(7) are utilized in the segmentation process. In the validation stage set of one
hundred randomly selected gait instances is used.
Similarly to image data (Fig. 1), in case of baseline transformation which sep-
arates every extracted catchment basin (Fig. 5), oversegmentation occurs. The
resultant partitions are numerous, irrelevant and they do not correspond to inter-
pretable gait phases. The oversegmentation is reduced for successive hierarchies
of watershed segmentation as shown in Fig. 6. This is summarized in Table 1,
which presents average values and standard deviations of number of extracted
partitions. Hierarchical segmentation not only decreases number of extracted
partitions, but primarily it makes them more meaningful.
The differential filtering which is used to approximate angular velocities,
enhances acquisition noise. It increases number of insignificant minima of gra-
dient magnitude and boosts oversegmentation effect. Therefore, greater number
of hierarchies is required to obtain relevant partitions.

Table 1. Statistics of number of extracted segments

Hierarchy Rotations Angular velocities


All rotations Limbs All rotations Limbs
0 23.61 ± 6.44 18.91 ± 6.35 35.85 ± 7.93 34.28 ± 8.38
1 5.67 ± 1.87 4.87 ± 1.75 9.55 ± 3.04 9.53 ± 2.93
2 1.87 ± 0.59 1.51 ± 0.71 2.64 ± 1.05 2.84 ± 1.19
3 1.01 ± 0.10 1.01 ± 0.10 1.08 ± 0.27 1.10 ± 0.33

For marker controlled watershed transformation which is visualized in Fig. 7,


region boundaries are located in places of maximum values of gradient magnitude
between successive markers. In case of gait data gradient is usually strongest in
time instants which separate consecutive steps performed by left and right lower
limbs.
Therefore, in final evaluation watershed transform was applied to separate fol-
lowing steps of gait main cycle. To validate performance of steps detection, man-
ually prepared segments of aforementioned gait set were matched to extracted
watershed partitions. It allows to calculate true positives (TP), true negatives
(TN), false positives (FP), false negatives (FN) and accuracy (ACC) of detection
for best matching segments representing consecutive steps:
TP + TN
ACC = (8)
TP + TN + FP + FN
576 A. Świtoński et al.

0.45
Gradient magnitude
60
Watershed lines
0.4
Catchment basins
50
0.35

Gradient magnitude
40 0.3
OY [in]

0.25
30
0.2
20
0.15
10
0.1

0 0.05

0
-40 -20 0 20 40 20 40 60 80 100
OZ [in] Time [10ms]

(a) Hierarchy 1, complete rotational data

Gradient magnitude
60
0.2 Watershed lines
Catchment basins
50

Gradient magnitude
40 0.15
OY [in]

30
0.1
20

10
0.05

0
-40 -20 0 20 40 20 40 60 80 100
OZ [in] Time [10ms]

(b) Hierarchy 1, Angular velocities of all joints and skeleton

60 Gradient magnitude
0.2 Watershed lines
Catchment basins
50
Gradient magnitude

40 0.15
OY [in]

30
0.1
20

10
0.05

0
-40 -20 0 20 40 20 40 60 80 100
OZ [in] Time [10ms]

(c) Hierarchy 2, Angular velocities of all joints and skeleton

Fig. 6. Hierarchical watershed segmentation of gait instance from Fig. 5 (Color figure
online)
0.45
Gradient magnitude
60 Watershed lines
0.4
Markers
50 0.35
Gradient magnitude

40 0.3
OY [in]

0.25
30
0.2
20
0.15
10
0.1

0 0.05

0
-40 -20 0 20 40 20 40 60 80 100
OZ [in] Time [10ms]

Fig. 7. Marker controlled watershed gait segmentation of gait instance from Fig. 5
represented by complete rotational data (Color figure online)

In the segmentation hierarchical as well as marker controlled (MC) water-


shed transforms were utilized. The markers are extracted automatically – they
correspond to poses 25% and 75% of gait cycle as shown in Fig. 7. The assess-
ment concerns both raw rotational data and angular velocities, describing move-
ments of all joints and orientation of the skeleton as well as lower and upper
Quaternion Watershed Transform in Segmentation of Motion Capture Data 577

Table 2. Average accuracies of steps detection

Rotations Angular velocities


H1 H2 H3 MC H1 H2 H3 MC
All segments 77.03% 83.91% 49.97% 95.35% 69.52% 89.34% 53.25% 94.51%
Limbs 81.47% 68.16% 49.97% 97.87% 69.73% 89.41% 53.77% 97.12%
Lower limbs 85.67% 57.65% 49.53% 98.16% 71.62% 91.30% 54.12% 97.51%

limbs. Furthermore, different hierarchies H are examined. The obtained results


are depicted in Table 2. It contains average accuracies calculated according to
formula (8). Because of manual coarse reference segmentation 30 ms margin sur-
rounding partition boundaries is not taken into account in the assessment.
The best performance is achieved by marker controlled segmentation. It is
consistent with our expectations – separation of successive steps corresponds to
maxima of gradient magnitude and simple proposed method of marker extraction
is sufficient to initially label partitions. In case of hierarchical watershed, only
neighboring segments are merged, even if they are strongly separated. Thus,
if oversegmentation differs for detecting steps, their segments are not precisely
determined. Moreover, the best hierarchy level is not the same for every gait
instance. However, hierarchical watershed has still acceptable accuracy, which
exceeds 91%.
In general, selection of the most significant joints of gait, improves the seg-
mentation. It reduces a noise and removes an influence of casual free movements
of body segments not directly involved in gait locomotion and stability. Angular
velocities give bit worse results if marker controlled segmentation is carried out,
but substantially better in other cases.

Acknowledgments. The work was supported by Silesian University of Technology,


Institute of Informatics under statute project BK/RAU2/2018.

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