Deep Learning for Electromyographic Hand Gesture Signal Classification Using Transfer Learning

In recent years, deep learning algorithms have become increasingly more prominent for their unparalleled ability to automatically learn discriminant features from large amounts of data. However, within the field of electromyography-based gesture recognition, deep learning algorithms are seldom employed as they require an unreasonable amount of effort from a single person, to generate tens of thousands of examples. This work's hypothesis is that general, informative features can be learned from the large amounts of data generated by aggregating the signals of multiple users, thus reducing the recording burden while enhancing gesture recognition. Consequently, this paper proposes applying transfer learning on aggregated data from multiple users, while leveraging the capacity of deep learning algorithms to learn discriminant features from large datasets. Two datasets comprised of 19 and 17 able-bodied participants respectively (the first one is employed for pre-training) were recorded for this work, using the Myo Armband. A third Myo Armband dataset was taken from the NinaPro database and is comprised of 10 able-bodied participants. Three different deep learning networks employing three different modalities as input (raw EMG, Spectrograms and Continuous Wavelet Transform (CWT)) are tested on the second and third dataset. The proposed transfer learning scheme is shown to systematically and significantly enhance the performance for all three networks on the two datasets, achieving an offline accuracy of 98.31% for 7 gestures over 17 participants for the CWT-based ConvNet and 68.98% for 18 gestures over 10 participants for the raw EMG-based ConvNet. Finally, a use-case study employing eight able-bodied participants suggests that real-time feedback allows users to adapt their muscle activation strategy which reduces the degradation in accuracy normally experienced over time.

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