Improving human movement sensing with micro models and domain knowledge

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Scheurer, Sebastian
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Human sensing is concerned with techniques for inferring information about humans from various sensing modalities. Examples of human sensing applications include human activity (or action) recognition, emotion recognition, tracking and localisation, identification, presence and motion detection, occupancy estimation, gesture recognition, and breath rate estimation. The first question addressed in this thesis is whether micro or macro models are a better design choice for human sensing systems. Micro models are models exclusively trained with data from a single entity, such as a Wi-Fi link, user, or other identifiable data-generating component. We consider micro and macro models in two human sensing applications, viz. Human Activity Recognition (HAR) from wearable inertial sensor data and device-free human presence detection from Wi-Fi signal data. The HAR literature is dominated by person-independent macro models. The few empirical studies that consider both micro and macro models evaluate them with either only one data-set or only one HAR algorithm, and report contradictory results. The device-free sensing literature is dominated by link-specific micro models, and the few papers that do use macro models do not evaluate their micro counterparts. Given the little and contradictory evidence, it remains an open question whether micro or macro models are a better design choice. We evaluate person-specific micro and person-independent macro models across seven HAR benchmark data-sets and four learning algorithms. We show that person-specific models (PSMs) significantly outperform the corresponding person-independent model (PIM) when evaluated with known users. To apply PSMs to data from new users, we propose ensembles of PSMs, which are improved by weighting their constituent PSMs according to their performance on other training users. We propose link-specific micro models to detect human presence from ambient Wi-Fi signal data. We select a link-specific model from the available training links, and show that this approach outperforms multi-link macro models. The second question addressed in this thesis is whether human sensing methods can be improved with domain knowledge. Specifically, we propose expert hierarchies (EHs) as an intuitive way to encode domain knowledge and simplify multi-class HAR, without negatively affecting predictive performance. The advantages of EHs are that they have lower time complexity than domain-agnostic methods and that their constituent classifiers are statistically independent. This property enables targeted tuning, and modular and iterative development of increasingly fine-grained HAR. Although this has inspired several uses of domain-specific hierarchical classification for HAR applications, these have been ad-hoc and without comparison to standard domain-agnostic methods. Therefore, it remains unclear whether they carry a penalty on predictive performance. We design five EHs and compare them to the best-known domain-agnostic methods. Our results show that EHs indeed can compete with more popular multi-class classification methods, both on the original multi-class problem and on the EHs' topmost levels.
Human sensing , Machine learning , Device-free sensing , Inertial sensors , Human activity recognition , Hierarchical classification , Presence detection
Scheurer, S. 2021. Improving human movement sensing with micro models and domain knowledge. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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