Echo State Networks and Long Short-Term Memory for Continuous Gesture Recognition: a Comparative Study

Doreen Jirak, Stephan Tietz, Hassan Ali, Stefan Wermter
Cognitive Computation, doi:10.1007/s12559-020-09754-0 - Jul 2020. Open Access
Associated documents : Jirak2020_Article_EchoStateNetworksAndLongShort-.pdf [1.8Mo]
Recent developments of sensors that allow tracking of human movements and gestures enable rapid progress of applications in domains like medical rehabilitation or robotic control. Especially the inertial measurement unit (IMU) is an excellent device for real-time scenarios as it rapidly delivers data input. Therefore, a computational model must be able to learn gesture sequences in a fast yet robust way. We recently introduced an echo state network (ESN) framework for continuous gesture recognition (Tietz et al., 2019) including novel approaches for gesture spotting, i.e., the automatic detection of the start and end phase of a gesture. Although our results showed good classification performance, we identified significant factors which also negatively impact the performance like subgestures and gesture variability. To address these issues, we include experiments with Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) networks, which is a state-of-the-art model for sequence processing, to compare the obtained results with our framework and to evaluate their robustness regarding pitfalls in the recognition process. In this study, we analyze the two conceptually different approaches processing continuous, variablelength gesture sequences, which shows interesting results comparing the distinct gesture accomplishments. In addition, our results demonstrate that our ESN framework achieves comparably good performance as the LSTM network but has significantly lower training times. We conclude from the present work that ESNs are viable models for continuous gesture recognition delivering reasonable performance for applications requiring real-time performance as in robotic or rehabilitation tasks. From our discussion of this comparative study, we suggest prospective improvements on both the experimental and network architecture level.


  author       = "Jirak, Doreen and Tietz, Stephan and Ali, Hassan and Wermter, Stefan",
  title        = "Echo State Networks and Long Short-Term Memory for Continuous Gesture Recognition: a Comparative Study",
  journal      = "Cognitive Computation",
  month        = "Jul",
  year         = "2020",
  publisher    = "Springer",
  doi          = "10.1007/s12559-020-09754-0",
  url          = ""

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