Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2012

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Karim Abdel-Malek

Second Advisor

Timothy Marler


The vast majority of products and processes in industry and academia require human interaction. Thus, digital human models (DHMs) are becoming critical for improved designs, injury prevention, and a better understanding of human behavior. Although many capabilities in the DHM field continue to mature, there are still many opportunities for improvement, especially with respect to posture- and motion-prediction. Thus, this thesis investigates the use of artificial neural network (ANN) for improving predictive capabilities and for better understanding how and why human behave the way they do.

With respect to motion prediction, one of the most challenging opportunities for improvement concerns computation speed. Especially, when considering dynamic motion prediction, the underlying optimization problems can be large and computationally complex. Even though the current optimization-based tools for predicting human posture are relatively fast and accurate and thus do not require as much improvement, posture prediction in general is a more tractable problem than motion prediction and can provide a test bead that can shed light on potential issues with motion prediction. Thus, we investigate the use of ANN with posture prediction in order to discover potential issues. In addition, directly using ANN with posture prediction provides a preliminary step towards using ANN to predict the most appropriate combination of performance measures (PMs) - what drives human behavior. The PMs, which are the cost functions that are minimized in the posture prediction problem, are typically selected manually depending on the task. This is perhaps the most significant impediment when using posture prediction. How does the user know which PMs should be used? Neural networks provide tools for solving this problem.

This thesis hypothesizes that the ANN can be trained to predict human motion quickly and accurately, to predict human posture (while considering external forces), and to determine the most appropriate combination of PM(s) for posture prediction. Such capabilities will in turn provide a new tool for studying human behavior. Based on initial experimentation, the general regression neural network (GRNN) was found to be the most effective type of ANN for DHM applications. A semi-automated methodology was developed to ease network construction, training and testing processes, and network parameters. This in turn facilitates use with DHM applications.

With regards to motion prediction, use of ANN was successful. The results showed that the calculation time was reduced from 1 to 40 minutes, to a fraction of a second without reducing accuracy. With regards to posture prediction, ANN was again found to be effective. However, potential issues with certain motion-prediction tasks were discovered and shed light on necessary future development with ANNs. Finally, a decision engine was developed using GRNN for automatically selecting four human PMs, and was shown to be very effective. In order to train this new approach, a novel optimization formulation was used to extract PM weights from pre-existing motion-capture data. Eventually, this work will lead to automatically and realistically driving predictive DHMs in a general virtual environment.


Artificial Neural Network, Human motion prediction, Human performance measures, Human posture prediction


xiv, 162 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 159-162).


Copyright 2012 Mohammad Hindi Bataineh