Adapting local features for face detection in thermal image

Chao Ma, Ngo Thanh Trung, Hideaki Uchiyama, Hajime Nagahara, Atsushi Shimada, Rin Ichiro Taniguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


A thermal camera captures the temperature distribution of a scene as a thermal image. In thermal images, facial appearances of different people under different lighting conditions are similar. This is because facial temperature distribution is generally constant and not affected by lighting condition. This similarity in face appearances is advantageous for face detection. To detect faces in thermal images, cascade classifiers with Haar-like features are generally used. However, there are few studies exploring the local features for face detection in thermal images. In this paper, we introduce two approaches relying on local features for face detection in thermal images. First, we create new feature types by extending Multi-Block LBP. We consider a margin around the reference and the generally constant distribution of facial temperature. In this way, we make the features more robust to image noise and more effective for face detection in thermal images. Second, we propose an AdaBoost-based training method to get cascade classifiers with multiple types of local features. These feature types have different advantages. In this way we enhance the description power of local features. We did a hold-out validation experiment and a field experiment. In the hold-out validation experiment, we captured a dataset from 20 participants, comprising 14 males and 6 females. For each participant, we captured 420 images with 10 variations in camera distance, 21 poses, and 2 appearances (participant with/without glasses). We compared the performance of cascade classifiers trained by different sets of the features. The experiment results showed that the proposed approaches effectively improve the performance of face detection in thermal images. In the field experiment, we compared the face detection performance in realistic scenes using thermal and RGB images, and gave discussion based on the results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2741
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry


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