FS-HGR: Few-Shot Learning for Hand Gesture Recognition via Electromyography

Elahe Rahimian, Soheil Zabihi, Amir Asif, Dario Farina, Seyed Farokh Atashzar, Arash Mohammadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work is motivated by the recent advances in Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) and their widespread applications in human-machine interfaces. DNNs have been recently used for detecting the intended hand gesture through the processing of surface electromyogram (sEMG) signals. Objective: Although DNNs have shown superior accuracy compared to conventional methods when large amounts of data are available for training, their performance substantially decreases when data are limited. Collecting large datasets for training may be feasible in research laboratories, but it is not a practical approach for real-life applications. The main objective of this work is to design a modern DNN-based gesture detection model that relies on minimal training data while providing high accuracy. Methods: We propose the novel Few-Shot learning- Hand Gesture Recognition (FS-HGR) architecture. Few-shot learning is a variant of domain adaptation with the goal of inferring the required output based on just one or a few training observations. The proposed FS-HGR generalizes after seeing very few observations from each class by combining temporal convolutions with attention mechanisms. This allows the meta-learner to aggregate contextual information from experience and to pinpoint specific pieces of information within its available set of inputs. Data Source Summary of Results: The performance of FS-HGR was tested on the second and fifth Ninapro databases, referred to as the DB2 and DB5, respectively. The DB2 consists of 50 gestures (rest included) from 40 healthy subjects. The Ninapro DB5 contains data from 10 healthy participants performing a total of 53 different gestures (rest included). The proposed approach for the Ninapro DB2 led to 85.94% classification accuracy on new repetitions with few-shot observation (5-way 5-shot), 81.29% accuracy on new subjects with few-shot observation (5-way 5-shot), and 73.36% accuracy on new gestures with few-shot observation (5-way 5-shot). Moreover, the proposed approach for the Ninapro DB5 led to 64.65% classification accuracy on new subjects with few-shot observation (5-way 5-shot).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9422807
Pages (from-to)1004-1015
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
StatePublished - 2021


  • Myoelectric control
  • electromyogram (EMG)
  • few-shot learning (FSL)
  • meta-learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • General Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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