Human movement researchers are often restricted to laboratory environments and data capture techniques that are time and/or resource intensive. Markerless pose estimation algorithms show great potential to facilitate large scale movement studies ‘in the wild’, i.e., outside of the constraints imposed by marker-based motion capture. However, the accuracy of such algorithms has not yet been fully evaluated. We computed 3D joint centre locations using several pre-trained deep-learning based pose estimation methods (OpenPose, AlphaPose, DeepLabCut) and compared to marker-based motion capture. Participants performed walking, running and jumping activities while marker-based motion capture data and multi-camera high speed images (200 Hz) were captured. The pose estimation algorithms were applied to 2D image data and 3D joint centre locations were reconstructed. Pose estimation derived joint centres demonstrated systematic differences at the hip and knee (~30 – 50 mm), most likely due to mislabeling of ground truth data in the training datasets. Where systematic differences were lower, e.g., the ankle, differences of 1 – 15 mm were observed depending on the activity. Markerless motion capture represents a highly promising emerging technology that could free movement scientists from laboratory environments but 3D joint centre locations are not yet consistently comparable to marker-based motion capture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20673
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • markerless motion capture
  • OpenPose
  • AlphaPose
  • DeepLabCut
  • convolutional neural network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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