Automatic Dynamic Tracking of Horse Head Facial Features in Video Using Image Processing Techniques
Doyle, Jason Emory
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The wellbeing of horses is very important to their care takers, trainers, veterinarians, and owners. This thesis describes the development of a non-invasive image processing technique that allows for automatic detection and tracking of horse head and ear motion, respectively, in videos or camera feed, both of which may provide indications of horse pain, stress, or well-being. The algorithm developed here can automatically detect and track head motion and ear motion, respectively, in videos of a standing horse. Results demonstrating the technique for nine different horses are presented, where the data from the algorithm is utilized to plot absolute motion vs. time, velocity vs. time, and acceleration vs. time for the head and ear motion, respectively, of a variety of horses and ponies. Two-dimensional plotting of x and y motion over time is also presented. Additionally, results of pilot work in eye detection in light colored horses is also presented. Detection of pain in horses is particularly difficult because they are prey animals and have mechanisms to disguise their pain, and these instincts may be particularly strong in the presence of an unknown human, such as a veterinarian. Current state-of-the art for detecting pain in horses primarily involves invasive methods, such as heart rate monitors around the body, drawing blood for cortisol levels, and pressing on painful areas to elicit a response, although some work has been done for humans to sort and score photographs subjectively in terms of a "horse grimace scale." The algorithms developed in this thesis are the first that the author is aware for exploiting proven image processing approaches from other applications for development of an automatic tool for detection and tracking of horse facial indicators. The algorithms were done in common open source programs Python and OpenCV, and standard image processing approaches including Canny Edge detection Hue, Saturation, Value color filtering, and contour tracking were utilized in algorithm development. The work in this thesis provides the foundational development of a non -invasive and automatic detection and tracking program for horse head and ear motion, including demonstration of the viability of this approach using videos of standing horses. This approach lays the groundwork for robust tool development for monitoring horses non-invasively and without the required presence of humans in such applications as post-operative monitoring, foaling, evaluation of performance horses in competition and/or training, as well as for providing data for research on animal welfare, among other scenarios.
- Masters Theses