Vol.2, No.6, 425-430 (2009)
SciRes Copyright © 2009 Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/JBISE/
Unsupervised human height estimation from a single
Ye-Peng Guan1,2
1School of Communication and Information Engineering, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China; 2Key Laboratory of Advanced Dis-
plays and System Application, Ministry of Education, Shanghai, China.
Email: ypguan@shu.edu.cn
Received 15 May 2008; revised 16 June 2009; accepted 17 June 2009.
The single image containing only a human face
not previously addressed in the literature is
employed to estimate body height. The human
face especially the facial vertical distribution
possesses some important information which
strongly correlates with the stature. The vertical
proportions keep up relative constancy during
the human growth. Only a few facial features
such as the eyes, the lip and the chin are nec-
essary to extract. The metric stature is esti-
mated according to the statistical measurement
sets and the facial vertical golden proportion.
The estimated stature is tested with some indi-
viduals with only a single facial image. The per-
formance of the proposed method is compared
with some similar methods, which shows the
proposal performs better. The experimental re-
sults highlight that the developed method esti-
mates stature with high accuracy.
Keywords: Human Height Estimation; Golden
Proportion; Facial Proportion; Feature Extraction;
Projection Model
Human height estimation has many important applica-
tions such as soft-biometrics and human tracking [1]. In
the first case, the stature can be used to rule out the pos-
sibility that a particular person is the same person from
the surveillance cameras [2,3]. In the latter case, it can
be exploited to distinguish among a small set of tracked
people in the scene [1,4,5,6,7]. The stature, therefore,
may become a very useful identification feature. In the
cases with two or more images, the stature estimation by
stereo matching is computationally expensive and there
exists ambiguity being resident in the stereo correspon-
dence, which is not overcome efficiently so far [8,9,10].
In the case of only one image available, the stature
measurement from single image has to be performed.
Many single view based approaches are proposed based
on some geometric structures or models [1,2,3,4,5,6,
7,11,12,13,14,15,16]. In [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,12,13,14,15,16],
plane metrology algorithms based on vanishing points
and lines are developed to measure distances or lengths
on the planar surfaces parallel to the reference plane.
Any slight inaccuracy in measuring vanishing points will
result in large errors [2,17]. Reference points defining
the top and bottom of the object should be clear and
unambiguous. Besides, reference objects must be in the
same plane as the target object. Moreover, the full body
of the user must be visible in measuring the stature. In
[11], BenAbdelkader and Yacoob incorporated some
certain statistical properties of human anthropometry
into the statu re estimation . It would be difficult to obtain
the stature when some anthropometric values such as
acromion and trapezius (or neck) are not available. Be-
sides, if the whole body and/or the facial plane are at an
angle with respect to the camera, the weak perspective
assumption cannot be exploited.
Although many single view based approaches have
been proposed, there exist some problems in the litera-
ture. In order to improve both validation and automation
of the procedure, we have developed an approach to es-
timating the stature with the following advantages. 1)
The used image contains only the human face not previ-
ously addressed in the literature. The human face espe-
cially the facial vertical distribution owns some impor-
tant information which strongly correlates with the stat-
ure [18]. The facial vertical proportion used is based on
the golden pr oportion [1 9,20]. A number of investigators
have commented on the relative constancy of the facial
vertical proportions during the human growth [21]. 2)
Only a few facial features are necessary to extract, and
the procedure is processed automatically by image
analysis operators. 3) The extracted facial features and
the facial vertical proportions are used together to esti-
mate the stature. The estimated resu lt is tested with so me
individuals with only a facial image, showing high esti-
Y. P. Guan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 2 (2009) 425-430
SciRes Copyright © 2009 Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/JBISE/
mation accuracy, which validates the developed ap-
proach to be objective, and can be taken as an automated
tool for estimating th e stature. The potential applications
of this work include biometric diagnoses, user authenti-
cation, smart video surveillance, human-machine inter-
face, human tracking, athletic sports analysis, virtual
reality, and so on.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section
2 describes the facial proportions used for estimating the
stature. Section 3 discusses the face detection and the
facial features extraction. Section 4 describes the stature
estimation based on a calibrated camera. Experimental
results and evaluation of the performance are given in
Section 5 and followed by some conclusions and future
works in Section 6.
All living organisms including humans are encoded to
develop and confirm to a certain proportion [20]. The
human face especially the facial vertical proportion
owns some important information which correlates with
the stature [18]. The facial vertical proportions include
the golden proportion [19,20] and the facial thirds
method [22,23]. The facial golden proportion is ap-
proximately the ratio of 1.618 to 1 as shown in Figure 1.
It states that the human face may be divided into a
golden proportion distribution by drawing horizontal
lines through the forehead hairline, the nose, and the
chin, or through the eyes, the lip, and the chin.
The facial thirds method states that the face may be
divided into roughly equal a third by drawing horizontal
lines through the forehead hairline, the eyebrows, the
base of the nose, and the edge of the chin as shown in
Figure 2. Besides, the distance between the lip and the
chin is double the distance between the base of the nose
and the lip [22,23].
The golden proportion and the facial third s are similar
to each other. The former specifies a larger number of
proportions than the latter. They used some different
features so that they cannot be directly compared [19].
By experiments it shows that the accuracy of stature
estimated by the golden proportion is more consistent
with the ground-truth data than that of by the facial
Figure 1. Facial vertical golden proportion Figure 2. Facial vertical thirds proportion
Figure 3. Face detection and facial features extraction results. A: origi-
nal image. B: extracted binary foreground. C: extracted foreground ob-
ject. D: extracted binary blob. E: resulting image from horizontal edge
detection. F: horizont a l lo cations of the eyes, the lip and chin lines.
Y. P. Guan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 2 (2009) 425-430
SciRes Copyright © 2009 Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/JBISE/
Robust and efficient extraction of foreground object
from image sequences is a key operation. Many algo-
rithms have been developed [24,25,26]. The algorithm
proposed in [26] is employed to extract foreground blob
as shown in Figure 3B. After extracting the foreground
objects, accurate facial features extraction is important
for reliable estimation of the stature. A number of meth-
ods have been developed for extracting facial features
[27,28,29]. Among the facial features such as the eyes,
nose, lip, chin, and so on, the eyes are one of the most
important facial features [30,31]. Since effective auto-
matic location and tracking of a person’s forehead hair-
line is difficult, we select the eyes, lip, and the chin as
the facial features used in the study.
The first step consists of locating the facial region to
remove irrelevant information. Human skin color,
though differs widely from person to person, is distrib-
uted over a very small area on a CbCr plane [32,33]. This
model is robust against different types of skin, such as
those of people from Europe, Asia and Africa. The skin
tone pixels are detected using the Cb and Cr components.
Let the threshold s be chosen as [Cb1, Cb2] and [Cr1, Cr2],
a pixel is classified to skin tone if th e values [Cb, Cr] fall
within the thresholds. Each pixel in the Cb and Cr layer
which does not meet the range [Cb, Cr] is set to zero. In
some cases, the obtained mask has concavities or spikes
as shown in Figure 3D, which affects the facial features
location. We use the algorithm in [34] to process this
There are many fairly long horizontal edges near the
facial features. In order to make the edge detector be-
haves more stable, we transform the intensity of the im-
age into a second derivate and then horizontally project
it to determine the horizontal positions of facial features
[34] (seen from Figure 3E). The positions of peaks in
the horizontal projection curve correspond with the
horizontal facial features including the eyes, nose and lip.
Horizontal transition is stronger at the lip than at the
eyes in some cases. The lip can be detected in hue/satu-
ration color space [35]. We detect the peak with a maxi-
mal value above th e lip as the horizontal position of eyes.
In the meantime, the chin is automatically located be-
tween the lip and the neck . Th e horizon tal locatio n of th e
eyes, lip and chin is g iven in Figure 3F.
Stature estimation is discussed here to highlight the use
of the extracted facial features. Assume the person
stands or walks on a plane and a camera is calibrated
with respect to this plane. We compute 3D position of
the extracted facial features according to the golden
proportion. Since the facial vertical proportions keep
relative constant during the human growth [21], the 3D
position of the extracted facial features can be deter-
mined if a certain length or distance is known.
More detailed metric description of the head and face
was recognized quite early. Major U.S. surveys, those in
which large numbers of measurements have been made
on samples of a thousand or more individuals, have been
carried out on military p ersonnel [18]. The measurement
device could provide a sensitivity of less than 0.01 mm
in each axis, and the accuracy with the order of 0.1 mm
could be achieved [36]. Shiang [18] has made extensive
3D statistical work of human head and face also. Ac-
cording to the measurement sets the metric stature can
be estimated based on the calibrated camera.
The camera model used is a central projection. Effect
such as radial distortion can be removed and is not det-
rimental to the method. The camera perspective projec-
tion model can be represented by a 34 matrix M. The
image coordinates (ui, vi) of a point Pi expressed in a
homogenous coordinate system are given as follows:
s (1)
When estimating the stature, we assume that depth
difference among the eyes, lip and the chin is n egligible.
For simplifying computation, assume that the 3D coor-
dinates of the chin point (u1, v1) is (X, Y, Z) whose hori-
zontal line intersects with the vertical line through the
center of the eyes. The coordinates of the lip point (u2, v2)
is (X, Y, Z+h) whose horizontal line intersects with the
same vertical line as above. According to the golden
proportion the coord inates of the center of the eyes point
(u3, v3) is (X, Y, Z+2.618h). If h, the height between the
chin and the lip is known, (1 ) can be used to infer the 3D
coordinate of the chin point. Expending the (X, Y, Z)
gives as follows:
13111 1321213313
13121 1322213323
23111 23212 23313
2 31212 32222 3323
3 31113 32123 3313
3 31213 32223 3323
um mummumm
vm mvmmvmm
um m ummumm
Avm m vm mvm m
um m um mum m
vm mvmmvmm
Y. P. Guan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 2 (2009) 425-430
SciRes Copyright © 2009 Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/JBISE/
141 34
241 34
142 342 3313
242 342 3323
143 343 3313
mum ummh
Bmvm vmmh
 
 
 
 
From (2), the linear least-squares solution is given by
[X, Y, Z]T = (ATA)-1ATB (5)
Once person’s head-top point (u4, v4) are known, we
can rearrange (2) to estimate the stature as (6) using the
coordinates (X, Y). It is found that (6) as a function of v4
can get a more stable estimation of the stature.
244344 31214 3222
433 23
mvm vmmXvmmY
Hvm m
 
To evaluate the performance of the proposed method, we
have done experiments with some individuals. The ex-
periments are performed with a CCD camera which
produces 640×480 pixels image sequences. The camera
is mounted overhead which look down at an oblique
angle to capture human face. In the experiment, the pa-
rameters of skin segmentation are fixed for all images as
follows: Cb1=83, Cb2=127, Cr1=140, Cr2=175. The pa-
rameter h used in (4) is selected as 44.96 mm.
The experimental setup includes a wall screen with a
maximum size of 2.4 m 4 m which is parted into 24
intended panels pointing by the users. The users’ posi-
tion is about 2 m~4.5 m away from the screen and the
user can walk freely in the experimental room. The room
size is about 3 m5 m. The experiment is performed as
following way. We capture the pointing person as she/he
is pointing at the intended panel. We extract the pointing
user’s face and estimate his stature. Figure 4(a) gives
some input video images as a user pointing at the panels.
The tested user ’s face is shown in some light blue pixels
superimposed on the original images. The estimated
stature (unit: mm) is give n in the image also. Figure 4(b)
shows the stature as the user pointing at the panels at
different locations. The symbol in the legend refers to
some different statures: the real human height (real H),
the thirds proportion based estimated height (thirds
based H), and the golden proportion based estimated
height (the proposed H).
The standard derivation σ of the estimated stature by
the proposal is 6.744 mm, and the maximal deviation
from the real height is 17.80 mm which is accurate
within 3σ. Correspondingly, the σ of the thirds based
estimated height is 10.4188 mm, while the maximal de-
viation from the real height is 36.9 mm which is out of
3σ. The proposed method outperforms the thirds based
method in estimating the stature.
The deviation is due to the fact that relative error in-
crease with the distance between the camera and the user
since the pixel size is proportional to the view angle,
which means smaller resolution from a larger distance.
In the experiment a pixel difference corresponds to about
5.26 mm resolution ambiguity from the distance of 3 m.
Besides, inaccurate camera calibration affects the meas-
urement results. Another factor is human gesture. Hu-
man gesture involves periodic up-and-down displace-
ment. Some other factors such as occlusion, and face
orientation may affect the estimation result. This prob-
lem can be avoided by using multiple cameras and a
camera with the best view is used to estimate the statur e.
Figure 4. Height results. (a) The person pointing at the panels and the extracted face
shown in light blue pixels superimposed on the original images. The estimated height is
given based on the proposal also. (b) Heights at different locations.
Y. P. Guan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 2 (2009) 425-430
SciRes Copyright © 2009 Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/JBISE/
Table 1. Height estimation results.
Tested object
1 2 3 4
1817.2 5.12 10.77 1708.2 8.56 15.34 1668.5 6.45 15.36 1653.6 6.75 15.75
1820.4 7.35 20.65 1722.4 10.56 26.74 1685.4 8.34 23.74 1664.5 9.26 26.51
1818.5 6.45 17.34 1720.6 9.78 22.58 1682.8 7.67 22.46 1663.7 8.78 25.12
Proposed 1813.6 4.89 8.90 1715.4 8.78 15.56 1672.3 6.16 15.13 1647.3 6.69 14.90
We hope to discuss it in the future. The processing speed
of the proposal is roughly 15frames/s for a single object
and frontal face in the scen e.
To verify the effectiveness of the mentioned approach,
we have performed experiments with some moving indi-
viduals. The performance of the proposal for four tested
individuals with known stature is compared with that of
some similar methods [7,12,15] shown in Table 1. Table
1 summarizes the average measurement (AM) stature,
the standard derivation (σ), and the maximal derivation
(MD) for each tested object. It is clearly seen that the
developed approach performs better.
We have developed unsupervised single view based
method for robust and real-time estimating the stature.
The image contains only a face or upper body little dis-
cussed in the literature. Only a few facial features such
as the eyes, lip and chin are necessary to extract. The
metric stature is estimated according to the statistical
measurement sets and the facial vertical golden propor-
tion. The estimated stature is tested with some individu-
als with only a facial image, showing high accuracy,
which validates the proposal to be objective, and can be
taken as an automated tool for estimating the stature.
Extension to un-calibrated scenario case would be de-
veloped in the future.
This work in part is supported by the National Natural Science Foun-
dation of China (Grant No. 60872117).
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