Tracking and modelling motion for biomechanical analysis
This thesis focuses on the problem of determining appropriate skeletal configurations for which a virtual animated character moves to desired positions as smoothly, rapidly, and as accurately as possible. During the last decades, several methods and techniques, sophisticated or heuristic, have been presented to produce smooth and natural solutions to the Inverse Kinematics (IK) problem. However, many of the currently available methods suffer from high computational cost and production of unrealistic poses. In this study, a novel heuristic method, called Forward And Backward Reaching Inverse Kinematics (FABRIK), is proposed, which returns visually natural poses in real-time, equally comparable with highly sophisticated approaches. It is capable of supporting constraints for most of the known joint types and it can be extended to solve problems with multiple end effectors, multiple targets and closed loops. FABRIK was compared against the most popular IK approaches and evaluated in terms of its robustness and performance limitations. This thesis also includes a robust methodology for marker prediction under multiple marker occlusion for extended time periods, in order to drive real-time centre of rotation (CoR) estimations. Inferred information from neighbouring markers has been utilised, assuming that the inter-marker distances remain constant over time. This is the first time where the useful information about the missing markers positions which are partially visible to a single camera is deployed. Experiments demonstrate that the proposed methodology can effectively track the occluded markers with high accuracy, even if the occlusion persists for extended periods of time, recovering in real-time good estimates of the true joint positions. In addition, the predicted positions of the joints were further improved by employing FABRIK to relocate their positions and ensure a fixed bone length over time. Our methodology is tested against some of the most popular methods for marker prediction and the results confirm that our approach outperforms these methods in estimating both marker and CoR positions. Finally, an efficient model for real-time hand tracking and reconstruction that requires a minimum number of available markers, one on each finger, is presented. The proposed hand model is highly constrained with joint rotational and orientational constraints, restricting the fingers and palm movements to an appropriate feasible set. FABRIK is then incorporated to estimate the remaining joint positions and to fit them to the hand model. Physiological constraints, such as inertia, abduction, flexion etc, are also incorporated to correct the final hand posture. A mesh deformation algorithm is then applied to visualise the movements of the underlying hand skeleton for comparison with the true hand poses. The mathematical framework used for describing and implementing the techniques discussed within this thesis is Conformal Geometric Algebra (CGA).