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Many video object tracking systems use block matching algorithm (BMA) because of its simple computational structure and robust performance. The BMA, however, exhibits fundamental limitations resulting from non-rigid shapes and similar patterns to the background. The authors propose a combined shape and feature-based non-rigid object tracking algorithm, which is tightly coupled with an adaptive background generation to overcome the limit of block matching. The proposed algorithm is robust to the object's sudden movement or the change of features. This becomes possible by tracking both feature points and their neighbouring regions. Combination of background and shape boundary information significantly improves the tracking performance because the target object and the corresponding feature points on the boundary can be easily found. The shape control points (SCPs) are regularly distributed on the contour of the object, and the authors compare and update the centroid during the tracking process, where straying SCPs are removed, and the tracking continues with only qualified SCPs. As a result, the proposed method becomes free from potential failing factors such as spatio-temporal similarity between object and background, object deformation and occlusion, to name a few. Experiments have been performed using several in-house video sequences including various objects such as a moving robot, swimming fish and walking people. In order to demonstrate the performance of the proposed tracking algorithm, a number of experiments have been performed under noisy and low-contrast environment. For more objective comparison, performance evaluation of tracking surveillance 2002 data sets were also used.