Ego-Exo4D Project gives AI training a human touch

In a partnership with Meta, Carolina’s computer science department is transforming artificial intelligence.

Four-photo collage of composite images of simultaneous captures from a camera tracking a man shooting a basketball as part of an artificial intelligence project.
“AI can become more helpful in our daily lives, assisting us in ways we’ve only imagined,” says Gedas Bertasius, assistant professor in the computer science department and Carolina’s research lead on the project.

The UNC College of Arts and Sciences’ computer science department is participating in the Ego-Exo4D project, an innovative venture that seeks to revolutionize artificial intelligence.

UNC-Chapel Hill joins forces in the project with an international consortium of 14 universities and the Meta Fundamental Artificial Intelligence Research team. The partnership will create a first-of-its-kind, large-scale, multimodal and multiview dataset that enhances AI’s perception, responsiveness and understanding of human skill in real-world settings.

Imagine you are a basketball player wearing a camera that records everything exactly as you see it, capturing your experiences from your point of view — an “egocentric” view. Now picture more cameras placed around you, capturing your actions from various angles. These provide “exocentric” views, like playing a character in a video game.

The Ego-Exo4D project combines these two perspectives to teach AI systems to perceive the world more like you do. Additionally, it collects expert analysis of your activity, resulting in data that not only consists of play-by-play observations on how you shoot a three-point shot, but also how you can improve your body positioning to land the three-point shot consistently.

“Ego-Exo4D isn’t just about collecting data. It’s about changing how AI understands, perceives and learns. With human-centric learning and perspective, AI can become more helpful in our daily lives, assisting us in ways we’ve only imagined,” says Gedas Bertasius, assistant professor in the computer science department and Carolina’s research lead on the project.

The project’s approach is a significant departure from traditional AI learning methodologies. Current AI systems primarily learn from static, third-person images and videos – akin to a bystander’s view. What makes Ego-Exo4D’s approach unique is the multimodal combination of first-person experiences from both the ego and exo viewpoint with feedback and insight from skilled experts. The project focuses on skilled human activities, including sports, music, dance and more, from more than 800 unique participants spanning 13 cities worldwide.

The combined approach allows AI to process and understand complex human activities in a way that’s closer to our natural perception and cognition, with the added ability to detect and understand the nuances of skill mastery.

“By matching the data view with human skill and expertise, AI is not only learning complex tasks, but we are training it on how to train others with the perception of skill level. This has a lot of interesting applications from personalized AI coaching to skill evaluation,” Bertasius says.

At its core, the Ego-Exo4D project is committed to ethical integrity and collaborative innovation. All resources, including over 1,400 hours of video data, are open-sourced, inviting the global research community to explore and expand upon this work. The project’s adherence to privacy and ethical standards ensures that this research not only advances AI but does so responsibly and inclusively.

By training AI from a multimodal perspective, Carolina is paving the way for more intuitive and responsive AI systems. “The potential applications are vast,” Bertasius says. “What I hope most for is increasing access — so that someone who is interested in learning new skills, or improving skills, in basketball, dance or music can learn more effectively without the high cost of personalized instruction.”

In addition to Bertasius, the team at Carolina includes doctoral students Md Mohaiminul Islam and Feng Cheng and undergraduate computer science majors Wei Shan, Jeff Zhuo and Oluwatumininu Oguntola.

To learn more about the project and Carolina’s contributions, visit the Meta blog or the Ego-Exo4D website.