Automatic Ear Landmark Localization, Segmentation, and Pose Classification in Range Images

Jiajia Lei, Xinge You, Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Multibiometric systems using face and ear features are increasingly adopted for forensic and civilian applications to address the challenges of facial expressions and occlusions. Although numerous ear and face recognition techniques have been proposed, not much work has been conducted in the field of 3-D fiducial points localization and 3-D ear detection. This paper presents an effective and efficient system of ear landmark localization, ear detection, and pose classification based on 3-D ears captured under large yaw variations. By utilizing the symmetrical property of human heads and classifying the ear with respect to its pose, all three tasks can be fulfilled given either left or right ears, without any prior pose information. A novel ear tree-structured graph (ETG) is proposed to represent the 3-D ear, after which a 3-D flexible mixture model is trained to locate the landmarks automatically. Then, the ear region is segmented based on them and the pose of the ear, i.e., whether it is a left or right ear, is classified based on the detected ETG. To the best of our knowledge, this paper is the first to present automatic landmark localization of 3-D ears extracted from facial scans with significant pose variations. Experiments were conducted at the University of Notre Dame collection F, G and J2, which contain large occlusion and pose variations, validating the effectiveness of the proposed methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7314956
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • 3-D ear detection
  • 3-D ear landmark localization
  • ear alignment
  • ear tree-structured graph (ETG)
  • human identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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