Unsupervised subject detection via remote PPG

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Subject detection is a crucial task for camera-based remote healthcare monitoring. Most existing methods in subject detection rely on supervised learning of physical appearance features. However, their performances are highly restricted to the pre-trained appearance model while still suffering from false detection of human-similar objects. In this paper, we propose a novel unsupervised method to detect alive subject in a video using physiological features. Our basic idea originates from the observation that only living skin tissue of a human presents pulse-signals, which can be exploited as the feature to distinguish human skin from non-human surfaces in videos. The proposed VPS method, named Voxel-Pulse-Spectral, consists of three steps: it (1) creates hierarchical voxels across the video for temporally parallel pulse extraction; (2) builds a similarity matrix for hierarchical pulse-signals based on their intrinsic properties; and (3) utilizes incremental sparse matrix decomposition with hierarchical fusion to robustly identify and combine the voxels that correspond to single/multiple subjects. Numerous experiments demonstrate the superior performance of VPS over a state-of-theart method. On average, VPS improves 82:2% on the precision of skin-region detection; 595:5% on the Pearson correlation and 542:2% on Bland-Altman agreement of instant pulse-rate. ANOVA shows that in all-round evaluations, the improvements of VPS are significant. The proposed method is the first method that uses pulse to robustly detect alive subjects in realistic scenarios, which can be favorably applied for healthcare monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2629-2637
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2015


  • Biomedical monitoring
  • face detection
  • object segmentation
  • photoplethysmography
  • remote sensing


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  • Automatic ROI for remote photoplethysmography using PPG and color features

    Calvo Callego, E. & de Haan, G., 11 Mar 2015, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computer Vision Theory and Applications - (Volume 1), March 11-14, 2015, in Berlin, Germany . Braz, J., Battiato, S. & Imai, F. (eds.). p. 357-364

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)

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