Posture similarity index: a method to compare hand postures in synergy space

PeerJ. 2018 Dec 10:6:e6078. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6078. eCollection 2018.


Background: The human hand can perform a range of manipulation tasks, from holding a pen to holding a hammer. The central nervous system (CNS) uses different strategies in different manipulation tasks based on task requirements. Attempts to compare postures of the hand have been made for use in robotics and animation industries. In this study, we developed an index called the posture similarity index to quantify the similarity between two human hand postures.

Methods: Twelve right-handed volunteers performed 70 postures, and lifted and held 30 objects (total of 100 different postures, each performed five times). A 16-sensor electromagnetic tracking system captured the kinematics of individual finger phalanges (segments). We modeled the hand as a 21-DoF system and computed the corresponding joint angles. We used principal component analysis to extract kinematic synergies from this 21-DoF data. We developed a posture similarity index (PSI), that represents the similarity between posture in the synergy (Principal component) space. First, we tested the performance of this index using a synthetic dataset. After confirming that it performs well with the synthetic dataset, we used it to analyze the experimental data. Further, we used PSI to identify postures that are "representative" in the sense that they have a greater overlap (in synergy space) with a large number of postures.

Results: Our results confirmed that PSI is a relatively accurate index of similarity in synergy space both with synthetic data and real experimental data. Also, more special postures than common postures were found among "representative" postures.

Conclusion: We developed an index for comparing posture similarity in synergy space and demonstrated its utility by using synthetic dataset and experimental dataset. Besides, we found that "special" postures are actually "special" in the sense that there are more of them in the "representative" postures as identified by our posture similarity index.

Keywords: Eigen postures; Hand; Movement primitives; Posture; Posture similarity index; Representative postures; Synergy.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7325495.v1

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Department of Science and Technology of India’s Cognitive Science research initiative (grant number: SR/CSRI/97/2014(G)). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.