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This paper presents a review and comparative study of recent multi-view approaches for human 3D pose estimation and activity recognition. We discuss the application domain of human pose estimation and activity recognition and the associated requirements, covering: advanced human–computer interaction (HCI), assisted living, gesture-based interactive games, intelligent driver assistance systems, movies, 3D TV and animation, physical therapy, autonomous mental development, smart environments, sport motion analysis, video surveillance, and video annotation. Next, we review and categorize recent approaches which have been proposed to comply with these requirements. We report a comparison of the most promising methods for multi-view human action recognition using two publicly available datasets: the INRIA Xmas Motion Acquisition Sequences (IXMAS) Multi-View Human Action Dataset, and the i3DPost Multi-View Human Action and Interaction Dataset. To compare the proposed methods, we give a qualitative assessment of methods which cannot be compared quantitatively, and analyze some prominent 3D pose estimation techniques for application, where not only the performed action needs to be identified but a more detailed description of the body pose and joint configuration. Finally, we discuss some of the shortcomings of multi-view camera setups and outline our thoughts on future directions of 3D body pose estimation and human action recognition.