Machine Vision and Applications

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 219–234 | Cite as

A vision-based system for automatic hand washing quality assessment

  • David Fernández Llorca
  • Ignacio Parra
  • Miguel Ángel Sotelo
  • Gerard Lacey
Original Paper


Hand washing is a critical activity in preventing the spread of infection in health-care environments and food preparation areas. Several guidelines recommended a hand washing protocol consisting of six steps that ensure that all areas of the hands are thoroughly cleaned. In this paper, we describe a novel approach that uses a computer vision system to measure the user’s hands motions to ensure that the hand washing guidelines are followed. A hand washing quality assessment system needs to know if the hands are joined or separated and it has to be robust to different lighting conditions, occlusions, reflections and changes in the color of the sink surface. This work presents three main contributions: a description of a system which delivers robust hands segmentation using a combination of color and motion analysis, a single multi-modal particle filter (PF) in combination with a k-means-based clustering technique to track both hands/arms, and the implementation of a multi-class classification of hand gestures using a support vector machine ensemble. PF performance is discussed and compared with a standard Kalman filter estimator. Finally, the global performance of the system is analyzed and compared with human performance, showing an accuracy close to that of human experts.


Hand washing Bi-manual gesture recognition Kalman filter Particle filter Skin detection Tracking Multi-class SVM 


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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Fernández Llorca
    • 1
  • Ignacio Parra
    • 1
  • Miguel Ángel Sotelo
    • 1
  • Gerard Lacey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ElectronicsUniversity of AlcaláMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceTrinity College DublinDublinRepublic of Ireland

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