My research project


Research interests



Ben Saunders, Necati Cihan Camgöz, Richard Bowden (2020)Adversarial Training for Multi-Channel Sign Language Production, In: The 31st British Machine Vision Virtual Conference British Machine Vision Association

Sign Languages are rich multi-channel languages, requiring articulation of both manual (hands) and non-manual (face and body) features in a precise, intricate manner. Sign Language Production (SLP), the automatic translation from spoken to sign languages, must embody this full sign morphology to be truly understandable by the Deaf community. Previous work has mainly focused on manual feature production, with an under-articulated output caused by regression to the mean. In this paper, we propose an Adversarial Multi-Channel approach to SLP. We frame sign production as a minimax game between a transformer-based Generator and a conditional Discriminator. Our adversarial discriminator evaluates the realism of sign production conditioned on the source text, pushing the generator towards a realistic and articulate output. Additionally, we fully encapsulate sign articulators with the inclusion of non-manual features, producing facial features and mouthing patterns. We evaluate on the challenging RWTH-PHOENIX-Weather-2014T (PHOENIX14T) dataset, and report state-of-the art SLP back-translation performance for manual production. We set new benchmarks for the production of multi-channel sign to underpin future research into realistic SLP.

Recent approaches to Sign Language Production (SLP) have adopted spoken language Neural Machine Translation (NMT) architectures, applied without sign-specific modifications. In addition, these works represent sign language as a sequence of skeleton pose vectors, projected to an abstract representation with no inherent skeletal structure. In this paper, we represent sign language sequences as a skeletal graph structure, with joints as nodes and both spatial and temporal connections as edges. To operate on this graphical structure, we propose Skeletal Graph Self-Attention (SGSA), a novel graphical attention layer that embeds a skeleton inductive bias into the SLP model. Retaining the skeletal feature representation throughout, we directly apply a spatio-temporal adjacency matrix into the self-attention formulation. This provides structure and context to each skeletal joint that is not possible when using a non-graphical abstract representation, enabling fluid and expressive sign language production. We evaluate our Skeletal Graph Self-Attention architecture on the challenging RWTH-PHOENIX-Weather-2014T (PHOENIX14T) dataset, achieving state-of-the-art back translation performance with an 8% and 7% improvement over competing methods for the dev and test sets.

Ben Saunders, Necati Cihan Camgöz, Richard Bowden (2020)Progressive Transformers for End-to-End Sign Language Production, In: 2020 European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV)

The goal of automatic Sign Language Production (SLP) is to translate spoken language to a continuous stream of sign language video at a level comparable to a human translator. If this was achievable, then it would revolutionise Deaf hearing communications. Previous work on predominantly isolated SLP has shown the need for architectures that are better suited to the continuous domain of full sign sequences. In this paper, we propose Progressive Transformers, the first SLP model to translate from discrete spoken language sentences to continuous 3D sign pose sequences in an end-to-end manner. A novel counter decoding technique is introduced, that enables continuous sequence generation at training and inference. We present two model configurations, an end-to end network that produces sign direct from text and a stacked network that utilises a gloss intermediary. We also provide several data augmentation processes to overcome the problem of drift and drastically improve the performance of SLP models. We propose a back translation evaluation mechanism for SLP, presenting benchmark quantitative results on the challenging RWTH-PHOENIXWeather- 2014T (PHOENIX14T) dataset and setting baselines for future research. Code available at https://github.com/BenSaunders27/ ProgressiveTransformersSLP.

— The visual anonymisation of sign language data is an essential task to address privacy concerns raised by large-scale dataset collection. Previous anonymisation techniques have either significantly affected sign comprehension or required manual, labour-intensive work. In this paper, we formally introduce the task of Sign Language Video Anonymisation (SLVA) as an automatic method to anonymise the visual appearance of a sign language video whilst retaining the meaning of the original sign language sequence. To tackle SLVA, we propose ANONYSIGN, a novel automatic approach for visual anonymisation of sign language data. We first extract pose information from the source video to remove the original signer appearance. We next generate a photo-realistic sign language video of a novel appearance from the pose sequence, using image-to-image translation methods in a conditional variational autoencoder framework. An approximate posterior style distribution is learnt, which can be sampled from to synthesise novel human appearances. In addition, we propose a novel style loss that ensures style consistency in the anonymised sign language videos. We evaluate ANONYSIGN for the SLVA task with extensive quantitative and qualitative experiments highlighting both realism and anonymity of our novel human appearance synthesis. In addition, we formalise an anonymity perceptual study as an evaluation criteria for the SLVA task and showcase that video anonymisation using ANONYSIGN retains the original sign language content.

BENJAMIN SAUNDERS, NECATI CIHAN CAMGOZ, RICHARD BOWDEN (2021)Mixed SIGNals: Sign Language Production via a Mixture of Motion Primitives

It is common practice to represent spoken languages at their phonetic level. However, for sign languages, this implies breaking motion into its constituent motion primi-tives. Avatar based Sign Language Production (SLP) has traditionally done just this, building up animation from sequences of hand motions, shapes and facial expressions. However, more recent deep learning based solutions to SLP have tackled the problem using a single network that estimates the full skeletal structure. We propose splitting the SLP task into two distinct jointly-trained sub-tasks. The first translation sub-task translates from spoken language to a latent sign language representation, with gloss supervision. Subsequently, the animation sub-task aims to produce expressive sign language sequences that closely resemble the learnt spatio-temporal representation. Using a progressive transformer for the translation sub-task, we propose a novel Mixture of Motion Primitives (MOMP) architecture for sign language animation. A set of distinct motion primitives are learnt during training, that can be temporally combined at inference to animate continuous sign language sequences. We evaluate on the challenging RWTH-PHOENIX-Weather-2014T (PHOENIX14T) dataset, presenting extensive ablation studies and showing that MOMP outperforms baselines in user evaluations. We achieve state-of-the-art back translation performance with an 11% improvement over competing results. Importantly, and for the first time, we showcase stronger performance for a full translation pipeline going from spoken language to sign, than from gloss to sign.

Ben Saunders, Necati Cihan Camgoz, Richard Bowden (2021)Continuous 3D Multi-Channel Sign Language Production via Progressive Transformers and Mixture Density Networks, In: International journal of computer vision129(7)pp. 2113-2135 Springer

Sign languages are multi-channel visual languages, where signers use a continuous 3D space to communicate. Sign language production (SLP), the automatic translation from spoken to sign languages, must embody both the continuous articulation and full morphology of sign to be truly understandable by the Deaf community. Previous deep learning-based SLP works have produced only a concatenation of isolated signs focusing primarily on the manual features, leading to a robotic and non-expressive production. In this work, we propose a novel Progressive Transformer architecture, the first SLP model to translate from spoken language sentences to continuous 3D multi-channel sign pose sequences in an end-to-end manner. Our transformer network architecture introduces a counter decoding that enables variable length continuous sequence generation by tracking the production progress over time and predicting the end of sequence. We present extensive data augmentation techniques to reduce prediction drift, alongside an adversarial training regime and a mixture density network (MDN) formulation to produce realistic and expressive sign pose sequences. We propose a back translation evaluation mechanism for SLP, presenting benchmark quantitative results on the challenging PHOENIX14T dataset and setting baselines for future research. We further provide a user evaluation of our SLP model, to understand the Deaf reception of our sign pose productions.

heute gibt es aber auch mehr angebote in der kultur oder woanders (trans: Today, however, there are also more offers in culture or elsewhere) HEUTE1 MEHR1 VERSCHIEDENES2 KULTUR1A VERSCHIEDENES1 wir konnen uns selber andern oder freude geben (trans: we can change ourselves or give joy) KORPER1 SELBST1A ODER6B FROH1 GEBEN1 a) b) d) c) Figure 1. Photo-Realistic Sign Language Production: Given a spoken language sentence from an unconstrained domain of discourse (a), an initial translation is conducted to a gloss sequence (b). FS-NET next produces a co-articulated continuous skeleton pose sequence from dictionary signs (c), which SIGNGAN generates into a photo-realistic sign language video in a given style (d). Abstract Sign languages are visual languages, with vocabularies as rich as their spoken language counterparts. However , current deep-learning based Sign Language Production (SLP) models produce under-articulated skeleton pose sequences from constrained vocabularies and this limits applicability. To be understandable and accepted by the deaf, an automatic SLP system must be able to generate co-articulated photo-realistic signing sequences for large domains of discourse. In this work, we tackle large-scale SLP by learning to co-articulate between dictionary signs, a method capable of producing smooth signing while scaling to unconstrained domains of discourse. To learn sign co-articulation, we propose a novel Frame Selection Network (FS-NET) that improves the temporal alignment of interpolated dictionary signs to continuous signing sequences. Additionally, we propose SIGNGAN, a pose-conditioned human synthesis model that produces photo-realistic sign language videos direct from skeleton pose. We propose a novel keypoint-based loss function which improves the quality of synthesized hand images. We evaluate our SLP model on the large-scale meineDGS (mDGS) corpus, conducting extensive user evaluation showing our FS-NET approach improves co-articulation of interpolated dictionary signs. Additionally, we show that SIGNGAN significantly outperforms all base-line methods for quantitative metrics, human perceptual studies and native deaf signer comprehension.

Neural Sign Language Production (SLP) aims to automatically translate from spoken language sentences to sign language videos. Historically the SLP task has been broken into two steps; Firstly, translating from a spoken language sentence to a gloss sequence and secondly, producing a sign language video given a sequence of glosses. In this paper we apply Natural Language Processing techniques to the first step of the SLP pipeline. We use language models such as BERT and Word2Vec to create better sentence level embeddings, and apply several tokenization techniques, demonstrating how these improve performance on the low resource translation task of Text to Gloss. We introduce Text to HamNoSys (T2H) translation, and show the advantages of using a phonetic representation for sign language translation rather than a sign level gloss representation. Furthermore, we use HamNoSys to extract the hand shape of a sign and use this as additional supervision during training, further increasing the performance on T2H. Assembling best practise, we achieve a BLEU-4 score of 26.99 on the MineDGS dataset and 25.09 on PHOENIX14T, two new state-of-the-art baselines.