Collaborative activity recognition with heterogeneous activity sets and privacy preferences

Gabriele Civitarese*, Juan Ye, Matteo Zampatti, Claudio Bettini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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One of the major challenges in Human Activity Recognition (HAR) based on machine learning is the scarcity of labeled data. Indeed, collecting a sufficient amount of training data to build a reliable recognition problem is often prohibitive. Among the many solutions in the literature to mitigate this issue, collaborative learning is emerging as a promising direction to distribute the annotation burden over multiple users that cooperate to build a shared recognition model. One of the major issues of existing methods is that they assume a static activity model with a fixed set of target activities. In this paper, we propose a novel approach that is based on Growing When Required (GWR) neural networks. A GWR network continuously adapts itself according to the input training data, and hence it is particularly suited when the users share heterogeneous sets of activities. Like in federated learning, for the sake of privacy preservation, each user contributes to the global activity classifier by sharing personal model parameters, and not by directly sharing data. In order to further mitigate privacy threats, we implement a strategy to avoid releasing model parameters that may indirectly reveal information about activities that the user specifically marked as private. Our results on two well-known publicly available datasets show the effectiveness and the flexibility of our approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-452
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments
Issue number6
Early online date4 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2021


  • Activity recognition
  • Collaborative learning
  • Semi-supervised learning,
  • Privacy


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