Unique Wearable Tracker Can Detect the Whole Body in 3D

A small camera can track a full-body pose.

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2 min read
Digitized human body silhouettes in 3D

Wearable tech that can capture the full body has been developed.

Kolocim/Getty Images

Researchers at Cornell University have developed a wearable wrist camera that can capture 3D renderings of the entire human body. Called BodyTrak, the technology uses a single, tiny RGB camera and a "customized deep neural network," the university said in a media release on Tuesday.

After the camera captures partial images of the user's body, integrated AI technology can create full 3D silhouettes using various positions of 14 joints in the head, torso, arms and legs. Because AI sensors can construct the images just from the pieces that the camera captures, the researchers say, there's no need to capture full shots of the whole body. During their study, the researchers used different camera settings as participants as conducted activities such as walking, working out or sitting. Based on BodyTrak's ability to detect the human figure in multiple poses and movements, they hope the technology can be used in smartwatches of the future.

"Since smartwatches already have a camera, technology like BodyTrak could understand the user's pose and give real-time feedback," said Cornell assistant professor of science Cheng Zhang. "That's handy, affordable and does not limit the user's moving area."

The researchers aim to have BodyTrak assist with monitoring physical activity and body functions. As for privacy concerns, they say that the camera points directly at the user and only acquires partial images of the body. Described as a dime-sized camera that sits on the wrist, the device is one of the latest developments in Cornell's SciFiLab, a facility that has also built sensors that track hand and finger movements and facial expressions.