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Title: Towards human distance estimation using a thermal sensor array
Authors: Naser, A
Lotfi, A
Zhong, J 
Issue Date: 2021
Source: Neural computing and applications, 2021, Online first,
Abstract: Human distance estimation is essential in many vital applications, specifically, in human localisation-based systems, such as independent living for older adults applications, and making places safe through preventing the transmission of contagious diseases through social distancing alert systems. Previous approaches to estimate the distance between a reference sensing device and human subject relied on visual or high-resolution thermal cameras. However, regular visual cameras have serious concerns about people’s privacy in indoor environments, and high-resolution thermal cameras are costly. This paper proposes a novel approach to estimate the distance for indoor human-centred applications using a low-resolution thermal sensor array. The proposed system presents a discrete and adaptive sensor placement continuous distance estimators using classification techniques and artificial neural network, respectively. It also proposes a real-time distance-based field of view classification through a novel image-based feature. Besides, the paper proposes a transfer application to the proposed continuous distance estimator to measure human height. The proposed approach is evaluated in different indoor environments, sensor placements with different participants. This paper shows a median overall error of ± 0.2 m in continuous-based estimation and 96.8 % achieved-accuracy in discrete distance estimation.
Keywords: Adaptive system
Artificial neural network
Distance estimation
Human-centred approach
Semantic segmentation
Thermal sensor array
Publisher: Springer
Journal: Neural computing and applications 
ISSN: 0941-0643
DOI: 10.1007/s00521-021-06193-2
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
The following publication Naser, A., Lotfi, A. & Zhong, J. Towards human distance estimation using a thermal sensor array. Neural Comput & Applic (2021) is available at
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