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Optimized Algorithm for Face Detection Integrating Different Illuminating Condition


Abstract and Figures

Face detection is a significant research topic to recognize the identity for many automated systems. In this paper, we propose a face detection algorithm to detect a single face in an image sequence in the real-time environment by finding unique structural features. The proposed method allows the user to detect the face in case the lighting conditions, pose, and viewpoint vary. Two methods are combined in the proposed approach. First, we use the components Y, C b, and C r in YC b C r color space as threshold conditions to segment the image into luminance and chrominance components. Second, we use Roberts cross operator [1] to approximate the magnitude of the gradient of the test image and outline the edges of the face. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm achieves high detection rate and low false positive rate.
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Optimized Algorithm for Face Detection Integrating
Different Illuminating Conditions
Sumaya Abusaleh
, Varun Pande
, and khaled Elleithy
Computer Science and Engineering Department
University Of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT 06604, USA
{ sabusale, vpande, elleithy }
Abstract - Face detection is a significant research topic to
recognize the identity for many automated systems. In this
paper, we propose a face detection algorithm to detect a
single face in an image sequence in the real-time
environment by finding unique structural features. The
proposed method allows the user to detect the face in case
the lighting conditions, pose, and viewpoint vary. Two
methods are combined in the proposed approach. First, we
use the components Y, C
and C
in YC
color space as
threshold conditions to segment the image into luminance
and chrominance components. Second, we use Roberts cross
operator [1] to approximate the magnitude of the gradient
of the test image and outline the edges of the face.
Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm
achieves high detection rate and low false positive rate.
Keywords: Face detection, YC
color space, Roberts
cross operator, Computer Vision, Illumination,
1 Introduction
Recently, Computer Vision has become one of the
fields that have inspired a large number of researchers to
develop efficient techniques for programming computers to
understand the features in the images. Digital image
processing technology makes the challenges of automated
image interpretation more attractive and interesting. This
growing interest can be attributed to useful applications such
as: medical imaging, video surveillance, video coding,
content-based image retrieval, movie-post processing,
human computer interaction (HCI), industrial inspection,
and counting people, etc [2] [3] [4]. Vision, as a source of
semantic information, is one of the computer Vision themes.
This means using algorithmic methods to recognize objects,
and people motions in order to understand the relationships
among different components in the real world. Face
detection is the highlight of such automated applications.
Detecting the faces is considered as an indispensable first
step, because it is concerned with finding out whether or not
there are any faces in a given image. If any face appears, it
should be localized and extracted from the background. It is
also discussed in [5], that after capturing the image using a
camera, some processing should be performed on the image
to analyze the information on the detected faces in order to
extract the features. These features are important to
determine the location of the face, recognize, verify, and
track its motion.
However, there are several peculiarities that makes face
detection more challenging; faces are non-rigid and have
different components. For instance, color, shape, size, and
texture are different components of the face. Also the
variations in illumination intensity and chromaticity in real-
time environment affects the appearance of the skin color of
the face. Moreover, the face may also be occluded by other
objects such as glasses, a scarf, long hair and partial or full
occlusion of faces with each other. Furthermore, facial
features such as beards and mustaches may affect the
appearance of the face. Orientation of faces can also be
affected by facial expressions, for example, smiles, winks,
and anger, etc. There are two kinds of rotations that can be
also attributed as some of the major challenges associated
with face detection. In-plane rotation is the orientation of the
image such as frontal, upside down, and profile. Out-of-
plane rotation means the angular pose of the face relative to
the cameras optical axis.
The paper is organized as follows. In Section 2 we
overview some related works. Section 3 illustrates the
motivation for our research. Section 4 presents our
proposed approach. Section 5 shows experimental results
and discussions. The conclusion and future work are given
in Section 6.
2 Related works
Many authors have addressed the problem of face
detection and developed many approaches to detect faces.
Yang et al [6] surveyed the face detection techniques and
divided the single image face detection approaches into four
areas: knowledge-based methods, feature invariant
approaches, template matching methods, and appearance-
based methods.
Yang and Huang [7] utilized a hierarchical knowledge-
based method to locate unknown human faces in black &
white pictures by defining certain rules. Yow and Cipolla
[8] introduced a feature-based face detection algorithm by
using different types of image evidence. Viola and Jones
proposed a real-time face detector [9]. The proposed
framework includes three steps: integral image
representation, AdaBoost training algorithm, and attentional
casecade structure.
Feature invariant methods are used for feature detection
such as facial features, skin color, texture, and integrating
multiple features of the face. The proposed technique in this
paper can be classified as one of the feature invariant
approaches. We present a face detection algorithm in the
presence of varying illumination conditions. We use the
components Y, C
, and C
in YC
color space as threshold
conditions to segment the image into luminance and
chrominance components, then we perform Roberts cross
operator to approximate the magnitude of the gradient of the
test image and outline the edges of the face.
The proposed method allows the user to detect the face
in case the lighting conditions, pose, and viewpoint vary in
the real-time environment. The technique locates the face in
video sequence by finding structural features. Skin color is
an effective feature to detect the human faces. Based on the
components of YC
color model
the pixel can be
classified to have skin tone if its value between specific
thresholds. So using YC
would save the computation
time. Furthermore, Roberts cross edge detection algorithm
will be applied to separate the integrated regions into the
face and highlight these regions of high spatial gradients
which are corresponded to edges of the face, Hence, Using
Roberts cross operator will need fewer computation.
3 Motivation
Since illumination changes over time in the real-time
environment; the influences of illumination variation make
the detection of the faces quite complex. The illumination
includes visible light source, shadow and other illumination
gradients [10].
The motivation is to detect a single face in a real-time
environment by finding out an effective approach that
allows the user to trade-off between accuracy and efficiency
in the presence of varying illuminating conditions.
The best way to detect faces or objects in a Vision
based system is to understand an image by comparing it
with a real Human Vision. Computers, similar to humans,
can vary the contrast perception of multimedia. It is a well-
known fact that under a fixed luminosity, humans cannot
detect subtle variations in color. Figure 1 represents a
scenario for which the human eye fails to see the small
variation in luminosity. However, the computer can
successfully distinguish theses variations. As seen in Figure
1.(a) the human eye cannot recognize the face of the person
standing. In figure 1.(b) the computer runs a set of
algorithms to calculate the luminosity of the image. In figure
1.(c) the computer differentiates the foreground from the
background. Figure 1.(d) shows a better resolution for the
person’s face. Thus, we can conclude that the Computer
Vision can see things that the Human Vision cannot
4 Our approach
4.1 Segmentation
Image segmentation is the identification and isolation of
an image into regions that correspond to structural units.
Our goal is to segment skin pixels from the background.
General approaches to segmentation can be grouped into
three classes: Pixel Based Methods, Continuity-based
methods, and Edge-based methods [11].
4.2 Pixel based methods
One of the pixel based methods is thresholding in which
all pixels having intensity above or below a certain value
will be classified as part of the segment. The Input color
image is typically in the RGB format. RGB color model
consists of three components: red, green, and blue. Since the
RGB color space is sensitive to the light conditions, thus the
face detection may fail if the lighting condition changes.
Figure 1
(a) Original image (b) Calculation of luminosity
(c) Differentiating foreground and background (d) The new
image with better Visibility.
Moreover, the human eye is more sensitive to brightness
than color. Hence; the human being perceives a similar
image even if the color varies slightly. To overcome this
issue, YC
color space is used in our proposed method.
The actual color displayed depends on the actual
RGB primaries used to display the signal.
is a digital transmission color space and it is
used in digital video. YC
belongs to the television
transmission color spaces. These include YUV and YIQ
analog transmission color spaces for NTSC and PAL.
segments the image into the luminance and
chrominance. YC
color space stores the Luminance
information (Y) separately from the chrominance
information (C
and C
). Luminance (Y) can be defined as
the brightness (Luma), however chrominance is usually
represented as the difference of two color components, C
and C
. The Component C
is blue minus the luma (B-Y),
whereas the component C
is red minus the luma (R-Y). The
conversion of RGB color space into full-range YC
space is done by the following formula [12]:
Y = 0.299R + 0.587G + 0.114B
= -0.1687R - 0.3313G + 0.500B + 128 (1)
= 0.500R - 0.4187G - 0.0813B + 128
Where R, G, B
[0,255], and Y, C
, C
[0,255]. This
linear conversion is simple and effective.
4.3 Edge- based methods
Edge detectors are elementary tools in Computer
Vision, and they are also known as gradient operators. An
edge of the image is a substantial local change in intensity
of the image. The concept of image gradient means the
gradation of the color from low values to high values. Thus,
converting two-dimensional image into boundaries or edges
is more compact than pixels and leads to the extraction of
the salient features of the image, which results in reducing
the amount of data to be processed. The gradient operators
are used to segment the image and form the outlines of the
potential object edges by enhancing the intensity change in
the image. Hence, the edges will occur at points where the
gradient is at a maximum which eliminates points below the
maximum. To achieve this, the magnitude and direction of
the gradient is computed at each pixel, so the gradient of an
image I(x, y) is a vector at pixel location (x, y) with
magnitude and direction.
There are four different approaches of the problem of
edge detection: Gradient based operator, Template
matching, Edge fitting, and Statistical edge detection [13].
Gradient based operator approach consists of two steps.
First, the edge strength is measured by calculating a first-
order derivative expression such as the gradient magnitude.
Second, a computed estimate of the local orientation of the
edge is used such as gradient direction in order to look for
the local directional maxima of the gradient magnitude.
Roberts cross operator [1] is considered as one of the
Gradient- and difference- based operators such as Sobel, and
Prewitt. The Roberts Cross operator is used to approximate
the gradient of an image through discrete differentiation. To
perform that, the sum of the squares of the differences
between diagonally adjacent pixels is calculated. The
operator consists of a pair of 2×2 Convolution kernels. The
original image should be convolved with the following two
kernels. As seen in Figure.2 the first kernel (G
) and the
second kernel (G
) rotated by 90°.
Figure 2. Roberts cross convolution masks.
The masks are performed separately to the original
image to produce separate measurements of the gradient
component in each orientation (G
and G
); Let I(x, y) be a
point in the original image. G
(x, y) be a point in an image
formed by convolving with the first kernel, and G
(x, y) be a
point in an image formed by convolving with the second
kernel. These can then be combined together to find the
absolute magnitude of the gradient at each point and the
orientation of that gradient. The gradient magnitude can be
defined as:
Let represents the direction angle of I at (x, y),
then the direction of the gradient is expressed as:
Hence, Roberts cross gradient operator is used in our
proposed approach to estimate the magnitude of the gradient
of the test image. The main advantages of using Roberts
cross operator in our approach are: simplicity, applicability
of spatial gradient measurements on two-dimensional
images and computing masks of size 2 × 2 which needs
fewer computations. The regions of high special frequency
will be highlighted. These regions often correspond to edges
of the face.
4.4 Proposed method
Several face detection approaches can detect different
ethnic groups [14]. The pigments carotene, hemoglobin, and
melanin involved in skin color are varying among people.
Hence, skin color can be considered as a robust feature to
detect human faces. Also, skin color feature allows fast
yx ,
Our proposed approach is shown in Figure 3. It
includes two levels to detect a single face. In the first level,
the system uses skin color as a feature for face detection. To
achieve that, the camera captures 2 frames every 1 second.
The algorithm calculates the RGB color for each pixel in the
captured frame. After that, the RGB color space is converted
to YC
color space. The newly obtained YC
frame is decomposed into 3 separate layers of Y, C
and C
components respectively.
The proposed approach has the advantage of creating an
interaction between the user and the computer. The user can
choose between multiple options which are Face Detection
option, Environment Detection option and Luminance
option, which is the face detection in varying light
In the normal lighting conditions, the algorithm detects
the face depending only on the value of Cr to get more
accurate results and not the combination between the three
color channels. To achieve this goal, user has to choose Face
detection option in the GUI. The value of C
should be in the
range between two threshold values; T1 and T2
respectively. After extensive experimentation, we found that
the best threshold value for C
157 < C
< 180
For people with really dark skin the amount of Cr when
calculated on a color space us negligible thus, we set the
threshold for Cr as follows:
45 < C
< 150
In some cases the face is partially occluded by other
objects such as mask, scarf, long hair, or hat as seen in
figure 4.b. It is quiet difficult to detect the face in such
scenarios. In this case the user should choose the
environment detection option in the GUI. This allows the
user to have an approximate to where the face is present in
the frame. To achieve this, a suitable threshold value for the
components has been set. The algorithm segments the
image based on the C
components, the system isolates all
the skin and non skin pixels giving an outline of the
environmental surroundings as a result. The resulting image
will be an outline of the environment surrounding the face
which it is present in. We set the value of C
as follows:
157 < C
< 377
In case the face appears in an environment which has
low light conditions or there is a shadow, the user has to
choose the luminance option in the GUI. The algorithm will
perform the detection for the face depending on the value of
Y for the current frame. To achieve this, a suitable threshold
value for Y is set as follows:
441< Y < 740
We demonstrate how the proposed method is working
based on user selection, Figure 4.(a) shows color image, its
Component, the derived grayscale of C
component, and
the edge detection after performing the Roberts cross
operator. Similarly, Figure 4.(b) shows the decomposition
based on C
component. Figure 4.(c) shows the
decomposition based on the Y component.
In the second level, the Y, C
and C
layers are
converted into grayscale images. The derived grayscale
image will be an input for Roberts Cross operator; which
outlines the edges. The reason behind using Roberts cross
operator is to increase the performance of the processing of
the video frames.
Input frame
Calculate RGB
color space
Convert to YCbCr
color space
Apply Roberts
cross operator
Locate the face using
bitmap samples
Draw template
Yes Yes
User selection =
checked color
If checked
color = Cr
If checked
color = Cb
Derive gray scale
If checked
color = Y
Face detection flow chart
Figure 4. (a) Decomposition based on Cr component (b)
Decomposition based on C
component (c) decomposition based
on Y component.
It is known that all the distinguishable characteristics of
a face lie in the facial features. Two Bitmap images were
formed after using a training set of 25 faces for each. These
bitmaps are used as samples in the proposed method. Either
a small template of size 50 × 50 pixels or a large template of
size 25 × 25 pixels is drawn around the face based on the
distance between the camera and the face in the real-time
5 Experimental results
The accuracy of face detection systems can be
evaluated by measuring some important factors. The first
one is detection rates which mean how many faces that have
been detected by the system (Computer Vision) over the
actual number of faces in the whole image (Human Vision).
The second factor is false positive, which means the number
of regions claimed to be faces by the system (Computer
Vision), but they are not. However, a false negative means
the system will not detect the faces and results in lower the
detection rate. We did our experiments by capturing a
sequence of images for single face in real-time environment
with complex backgrounds.
The system is written using C# language and operating
on an Intel Core 2 duo Processor at a speed of 2.2GHz. The
image resolution is 149 by 154. The graphical user interface
(GUI) includes three histograms that show the user the
amount of Luma (Y) in yellow color and the amount of
Chrominance shown with C
in red color and C
in blue
color in the real-time system as seen in Figure 5. Even
though the user has difficulty in detecting the face, with the
values provided in the histograms; C
is a histogram for the
difference of red. C
is a histogram for the difference of
blue. Y is a histogram for illumination components which
appears in yellow color. The user can choose the best option
to detect the face for constantly changing illuminating
As illustrated in table.1, many experiments have been
done on 1100 samples. We divided the samples into two
categories of 550 frames each with presence or absence of
the face respectively. We compared between the Computer
Vision and Human Vision in order to calculate the following
values: true positive, false positive, true negative and false
negative [15].
Two charts have been generated to analyze the results
given in Figures 6 and 7. We have achieved 90% detection
rate and 10% false positive rate. There are several
advantages of the proposed system. It can detect the face
regardless of how far the face is from the camera’s point of
view. Moreover, the proposed method can detect the face in
different orientations (frontal, profile, 45 degrees) as well as
different poses on still images. Furthermore, the proposed
method is able to detect faces of people with different
ethnicity. Finally, under variation of lighting conditions,
such as cloudy or sunny weather, our approach detects a
single face with low false positive rate because the
luminance option in the GUI allows the detection of the face
in low light condition.
Figure 5. Output of the proposed face detection method
Table 1. Computer Vision verses Human Vision
Computer Vision
Human Vision
Positive Negative Total
Presence 512 38 550
Absence 54 496 550
Total 566 534 1100
Figure 6. False positive rate verses true positive rate
Figure 7. Accuracy of the proposed method
6 Conclusions
We have presented an effective method to detect faces
in real-time environment. Our results show that the
proposed algorithm achieves 90% detection rate and 10%
false positive rate. One of the main issues that make face
detection techniques a hard task is how to cope with
different illumination conditions. Our technique detects the
face under variation of lighting conditions. The proposed
algorithm combined two segmentation approaches. The first
technique is a Pixel-based approach by using the
components Y, C
, and C
in YC
color model as threshold
conditions to segment the image into luminance and
chrominance components. The second technique is Edge-
based approaches by using Roberts cross operator to
approximate the magnitude of the gradient of the test image
and outlining the edges of the face.
We will be extending our research work by
implementing the proposed approach using IMB400
wireless multimedia sensor network boards. In the
application field of wireless sensor networks (WSNs),
computational resources are very limited. Extracting
features such as skin color and edges requires fewer
computations which makes them effective in the field of
WSNs applications.
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