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An overview of the current three-dimensional body scanners for anthropometric data collection


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Three-dimensional body scanners have revolutionized the anthropometric data collection. These data can be used for numerous applications, in different fields of expertise. However, there are different types of technologies and products to be used, influencing the re-sults obtained. This paper presents a non-exhaustive synopsis of the existing technologies and products available in the market.
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With the diffusion of digital devices for body scanning, the science of anthropometry gained a
new powerful tool that allows deeper investigations on the human body shape. The new digital
shape analysis tools allow rethinking the anthropometry science since, in the digital environ-
ment, the measurements are not limited to the traditional one dimensional ones, and instead it is
possible to have complex geometrical features (i.e. curvatures and partial volumes). 3D body
scanners have revolutionized anthropometric data acquisition, being more practical, accurate,
fast and, when compared to traditional anthropometry, less expensive.
The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the currently existing body scanners,
the available types of technology and the standard process of scanning test subjects.
The study of the human body as a 3D object has only started in 1973 with a light sectioning
technique proposed by Lovesey (Lovesey, 1966). This was labor intensive as the interpretation
of data was extremely time consuming. That technology evolved to what is now known as a
three-dimensional body scanner.
A whole body scanner is an optical 3D measuring system that produces a digital copy of the
surface geometry of the human body (Daanen and Water, 1998). In most cases, three-
dimensional body scanners capture the outside surface of the human body by using optical
techniques, in combination with light sensitive devices, without physical contact with the body.
The subject being scanned usually wears form-fitting clothes during the process. This means
that there is no longer the need for physical contact with the subject’s body. However, the im-
age based data collection introduces the question of privacy. There are different opinions re-
garding the privacy of the body scanner. If in the one hand it provides more privacy, since it
avoids the need to actually touch the body, on the other hand the highly accurate, more person-
al, images produced by the scanners are potentially more invasive since they can be stored inse-
curely and transferred directly from the scanner over local networks or the internet. Neverthe-
An overview of the current three-dimensional body scanners for
anthropometric data collection
S. Bragança
University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal
P. Arezes
University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal
M. Carvalho
University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal
ABSTRACT: Three-dimensional body scanners have revolutionized the anthropometric data
collection. These data can be used for numerous applications, in different fields of expertise.
However, there are different types of technologies and products to be used, influencing the re-
sults obtained. This paper presents a non-exhaustive synopsis of the existing technologies and
products available in the market.
less, with these advances in the anthropometric science and computer-based human-form mod-
eling it is now possible to give a different perspective to the collection of anthropometric meas-
One of the earliest 3D body scanning systems was a shadow scanning method developed by
the Loughborough University in the UK, the Loughborough Anthropometric Shadow Scanner
LASS (Jones et al., 1989). This system was developed and used to digitize the human body,
but it was necessary to manipulate the data in order to take body measurements from the scan.
The original shadow scanning methods are different from other conventional structured lighting
approaches since they require very little hardware besides a camera, a desk-lamp, a pencil and a
checkerboard. LASS was an automated, computerized 3D measurement system based on trian-
gulation, where the subjects stood on a rotating platform that was turned 360º in measured an-
gular increments. Brooke-Wavell et al. (1994) compared anthropometric measurements taken
with LASS with measurements taken using traditional anthropometry and concluded that they
were similar. For women, statistical differences were found between various measurements
(neck and chest circumferences, waist width, depth and height), whilst for men a significant dif-
ference was only found between the measurements of waist depth. These differences were ex-
plained as being due to landmarking and to difficulties in making horizontal measurements with
the tape measure.
2.1 Types of imaging techniques
Currently, there are several types of imaging techniques to create full body images. These imag-
ing technologies, include (i) 2D video silhouette images converted to 3D models, (ii) white
light phase based image capture, (iii) laser-based image capture, and (iv) radio-wave linear ar-
ray image capture (Treleaven and Wells, 2007; Istook and Hwang, 2001). Body scanning sys-
tems normally consist of one or more light sources, one or more vision or capturing devices,
software, computer systems and monitor screens to visualize the data capture process (Daanen
and Water, 1998). There are several types of body scanning technologies but the major ones are
those using laser and light. Table 1 briefly describes the various types of technology available
for three-dimensional body scanners (Daanen and Haar, 2013).
Table 1. Types of technology used by 3D body scanners.
Type of technology Description
Laser line systems A laser line is projected on the body from different sides and viewed by
cameras under a fixed angle. The advantage of a single line is that the sen-
sor can easily detect it and very accurately compute how the projected 2D
line is deformed on the 3D surface. The sequential 3D lines then form the
complete 3D image.
Structured light systems A structured light system projects a full structured light pattern into the
scene and, from the sensed deformed pattern, a full 3D image is calculat-
ed. This pattern can consist of dots, bars, or any other light patterns. The
advantage of a structured light scanner is its speed. Structured light scan-
ning is so fast, that it can be used for 4D scanning; i.e. real time 3D scan-
ning at 200 Hz. This offers nice opportunities to couple movement regis-
tration to 3D shape analysis.
Multi-view camera system A 3D image is acquired from two or more cameras. A stereo-camera rec-
ords two images at the same time from a different viewpoint. From the
content in the two images the depth to the body can be calculated and
converted into a dense 3D image in real-time. The advantage of a stereo-
camera system is that no laser line or light pattern is transmitted, which
means that sunlight cannot interfere with the pattern. However, using the
line or patterns enables a 3D image with higher resolution and accuracy.
Millimeter waves There are active and passive millimeter wave scanners. Active scanners
use the reflection patterns of millimeter waves projected on the body. Pas-
sive scanners process the millimeter waves that are emitted by the human
skin. Millimeter waves offer the advantage that they pass through most
clothing ensembles but not the skin. Thus, the shape of the body can be
captured without undressing. This offers an advantage in time and effort,
but may introduce an ethical problem because the private parts of the sub-
jects can be seen. Millimeter wave scanners are currently employed at air-
ports for the detection of metal parts under garments and offer an alterna-
tive for low radiation x-ray scanners.
It is possible to find many studies that compared the various types of existing body scanners.
Jones and Rioux (1997), Daanen and Water (1998), Olds and Honey (2005) and Daanen and
Haar (2013) discuss the use of 3D whole body scanners in anthropometry as a whole, giving a
good overview of the evolution of body scanning technology and the different scanners in use
at the time. Olds and Honey (2005) affirm that scanners using white light are generally faster
and cheaper than laser scanners, but can produce lower quality scans, with areas of data miss-
ing. Despite concluding that body scanners are expensive, require technical expertise, cannot
measure skin-folds or compressed bone lengths, they agree that body scanners offer the ability
to collect greater amounts of data, extract data when the subjects are no longer present and use
the data directly in computer-aided design software applications. McKinnon and Istook (2001)
compared two scanners available at that time from TC2, finding that the newer scanner was an
improvement on the older scanner, producing data that replicated more closely the one obtained
using traditional measurement methods. Then they anticipated that the extraction of fast and
accurate anthropometric data would be possible in the future, as in fact it is nowadays.
2.2 The different body scanners
Based in a publication from 2013 from Daanen and Haar, there are currently available on the
market various 3D whole body scanning systems, as the ones presented in Table 2.
Table 2. Currently available 3D whole body scanning systems (Daanen and Haar, 2013).
Company Product City, Country Technique
Cyberware WBX Monterey, CA, USA Laser line
4ddynamics Mephisto EX-pro or CX-pro Antwerp, Belgium Structured light projection
4ddynamics Gotcha Antwerp, Belgium Structured light projection
Vitronics Vitrus Smart LC Wiesbaden, Germany Laser line
Vitronics Vitrus Smart XXL Wiesbaden, Germany Laser line
TC2 KX-16 Cary, NC, USA Infrared
SizeStream 3D body scanner Cary, NC, USA Infrared
SpaceVision Cartesia Tokyo, Japan Laser structured light
3dMDbody Flex8 Atalanta, GA, USA Stereo photogrammetry
There are some new ways of creating three-dimensional images using systems that were not
initially designed to do so. This is the case of Microsoft Kinect that can be used for numerous
other applications besides games. The Microsoft Kinect sensor has its place in the class of de-
vices known as depth cameras and fall under the structured light systems categorization regard-
ing the type of technology used (Shotton et al., 2011). Kinect can be seen as a 3D marker-less
motion capture system because it provides a simplified skeleton in real time without the need
for especial clothes or other equipment. Despite the fact that it cannot be used for extremely ac-
curate studies (Ye et al., 2011; Clark et al., 2012; Bragança et al., 2014), it can be used when
there is no need for high accuracy, like in clothes or shoes sizing, indirect fat measurement or
clinical rehabilitation (Baena et al., 2012; Weiss et al., 2011).
2.3 Landmarking
Before starting the scanning process it is necessary to identify some body parts to simplify the
measuring process this process is often called landmarking. Landmarking is, indeed, a subject
very much discussed throughout the research.
For the purpose of landmarking and body dimensions’ collection, the 3D human model is
usually segmented at armpits and crotch (process known as segmentation). Five body parts in-
cluding head and torso, both arms, and both legs can be identified. There are many ways to per-
form this segmentation, for example, Nurre et al. (2000) proposed a cusp algorithm for seg-
menting the 3D scanning data of a human body and Wang et al. (2007) applied fuzzy logic
concept to locate the armholes and crotch, and then to separate the arms and legs from the
After segmentation, the scanning data will be ready for landmarking. Landmarking’s objec-
tive is to find out the anatomical landmarks that are used to define body size and shape (Figure
1). Since landmarks are mostly bony protrusions, palpation works are needed for identification.
In general, anthropometric data technicians place markers or stickers on the surface of human
body to highlight the positions.
Figure 1. Landmarks used for collecting the anthropometric dimensions (Wang et al., 2007).
As this is a process that requires some training, some attention has been given to developing
the methods to facilitate correct landmark identification. According to Wang et al. (2007), the
landmark identification methods can be generally classified as: (i) premarking, (ii) human body
mapping, (iii) geometry analysis and (iv) approximate height location determination. Thus the
positions of the landmarks can be easily identified on the scanning image with human eyes.
Further, by using the color information obtained from the cameras in the scanning heads, the
landmarks can also be identified by analyzing the RGB information in the scanning image
(Daanen and Water, 1998; Burnsides et al., 2001; Wang et al., 2007).
2.4 Applications
Body scanners are used for a wide variety of applications. Jones and Rioux (1997) divided their
applications in:
Medical: body deformity; glaucoma; orthodontics; orthopedics; surgery; lung function stud-
ies; custom prostheses; breast topography; pediatrics; medical management;
Human systems engineering: work environment; population anthropology; helmets and face
masks; gloves; clothing; human morphology; human motion analysis; forensic imaging;
hearing studies;
Virtual reality and communications: three-dimensional portraits; computer animation of hu-
man models.
According to Ashdown et al. (2004), more recently, 3D scans have been used to create virtu-
al models of customers of the apparel industry, which consumers can manipulate to mirror their
own bodies. Consumers can then try clothing on their model online
Creating anthropometric databases typically requires considerable resources (time, know-how,
funds, equipment and workforce). To overcome these limitations the technological development
in recent years, using three-dimensional forms, allowed the study of human size and shape to be
done in a more expeditious and efficient way that requires fewer resources. 3D body scanners
make the anthropometric data acquisition more practical, accurate, fast and less expensive.
With these advances it is now possible to explore and give a different perspective to the use of
anthropometric measurements.
3D scanning systems have evolved over the last few years. From LASS to Kinect the tech-
nology is always in progress. The type of technology used is different from scanner to scanner,
existing four main types of technology - laser line systems, structured light systems, multi-view
camera system and millimeter waves. Currently, there is a relatively high variety of three-
dimensional body scanners available in the market (nine major products developed all over the
According to the technology and product used, the results and applications are different. Dif-
ferent products may have different accuracy values so the applicability of the data may be com-
promised. Depending on the desired application, i.e., highly precise anthropometric data or less
accurate data for apparel applications, there is a variety of body scanners that can be used. For
example the Microsoft Kinect, that is less accurate, can be used for apparel applications, while
the Vitrus Smart LC, that is more precise, can be used for compiling an anthropometric data-
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Burnsides, D., Boehmer, M. & Robinette, K. 2001. 3-D landmark detection and identification in the
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eling conference, Quebec City.
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An overview of whole body scanners in 1998 (H.A.M. Daanen, G.J. Van De Water. Whole body scanners, Displays 19 (1998) 111–120) shortly after they emerged to the market revealed that the systems were bulky, slow, expensive and low in resolution. This update shows that new developments in sensing and processing technology, in particular in structured light scanners, have produced a new generation of easy to transport, fast, inexpensive, accurate and high resolution scanners. The systems are now moving to the consumer market with high impact for the garment industry. Since the internet sales of garments is rapidly increasing, information on body dimensions become essential to guarantee a good fit, and 3D scanners are expected to play a major role.
This research tested the effectiveness of using 3D scans of clothed participants in the fit analysis process. A panel of three expert judges viewed scans of 155 Misses size participants in the best fitting size of a test pant style. They rated 13 fit locations as Acceptable, Marginal or Unacceptable and then gave overall ratings for both front and back views. The ratings for all judges were added together to develop Acceptable, Marginal, and Unacceptable categories for each area and then compared using frequencies, means, and percentages to identify problem fit areas. Ease, line, balance, and set elements of fit were clearly seen on the visualizations of the scans and grain could be evaluated by its effect on silhouette. We concluded that substituting 3D scans for the live fit analysis process in research and industry has potential for 1) recording one single instance of fit that can be rotated and enlarged to view specific areas of analysis, 2) creating databases of scans of a variety of body shapes and sizes wearing a single size (in essence, testing multiple fit models), 3) scanning garments on fit models in multiple poses to evaluate garment/body relationships during natural movements, and 4) holding virtual expert panels where panelists can access the fit session at any location.
The ability to customise garments for fit is directly tied to the availability of a comprehensive, accurate set of measurements. To obtain accurate physical measurements, a basic knowledge and set of skills are required that are not often found in the average salesperson at a retail clothing outlet. The development of three-dimensional body-scanning technologies may have significant potential for use in the apparel industry, particularly for customisation or mass customisation strategies to be employed. The purpose of this study was to review all the 3D body scanning systems currently available and to determine the underlying principles that allow these systems to work. Specifications of each system were compared in order to provide some direction for further research into the integration of these systems with current apparel CAD pattern design or pattern generation technologies.
Anthropometry is the study of the measurement of the human body. By tradition this has been carried out taking the measurements from body surface landmarks, such as circumferences and breadths, using simple instruments like tape measures and calipers. Three-dimensional (3D) surface anthropometry enables us to extend the study to 3D geometry and morphology of mainly external human body tissues. It includes the acquisition, indexing, transmission, archiving, retrieval, interrogation and analysis of body size, shape, and surface together with their variability throughout growth and development to adulthood. While 3D surface anthropometry surveying is relatively new, anthropometric surveying using traditional tools, such as calipers and tape measures, is not. Recorded studies of the human form date back to ancient times. Since at least the 17th century1 investigators have made attempts to measure the human body for physical properties such as weight, size, and centre of mass. Martin documented ‘standard’ body measurement methods in a handbook in 1928.2 This paper reviews the past and current literature devoted to the applications of 3D anthropometry because true D scanning of the complete human body is fast becoming a reality. We attempt to take readers through different forms of technology which deal with simple forms of projected light to the more complex advanced forms of laser and video technology giving low and/or high resolution 3D data. Information is also given about image capture of size and shape of the whole as well as most component parts of the human body. In particular, the review describes with explanations a multitude of applications, for example, medical, product design, human engineering, anthropometry and ergonomics etc.
This paper presents the development of an automated anthropometric data-collection system for digital human models obtained from a three-dimensional whole-body scanner. Thirty-seven landmarks were specified for feature recognition and data collection. Both color information and geometric relations were used to develop the algorithms for identifying the landmarks. The proposed landmark identification method has been tested on 105 human models. The recognition rate was over 98%. The experimental results indicate that the proposed method was very efficient and effective in identifying the landmarks. Furthermore, 103 anthropometric dimensions can be extracted from a digital human model. Comparing the data obtained from the proposed system with those obtained by the traditional direct measurement method, the system is fast, accurate, and consistent. Moreover, based on the collected body dimensions, clothing patterns can be directly generated in CAD file format, and textile cutting can be subsequently executed by a CNC laser cuter. An automated tailoring system can thus be developed. The concept of mass customization for the apparel industry can thus be realized.
Clinically feasible methods of assessing postural control such as timed standing balance and functional reach tests provide important information, however, they cannot accurately quantify specific postural control mechanisms. The Microsoft Kinect™ system provides real-time anatomical landmark position data in three dimensions (3D), and given that it is inexpensive, portable and simple to setup it may bridge this gap. This study assessed the concurrent validity of the Microsoft Kinect™ against a benchmark reference, a multiple-camera 3D motion analysis system, in 20 healthy subjects during three postural control tests: (i) forward reach, (ii) lateral reach, and (iii) single-leg eyes-closed standing balance. For the reach tests, the outcome measures consisted of distance reached and trunk flexion angle in the sagittal (forward reach) and coronal (lateral reach) planes. For the standing balance test the range and deviation of movement in the anatomical landmark positions for the sternum, pelvis, knee and ankle and the lateral and anterior trunk flexion angle were assessed. The Microsoft Kinect™ and 3D motion analysis systems had comparable inter-trial reliability (ICC difference=0.06±0.05; range, 0.00-0.16) and excellent concurrent validity, with Pearson's r-values >0.90 for the majority of measurements (r=0.96±0.04; range, 0.84-0.99). However, ordinary least products analyses demonstrated proportional biases for some outcome measures associated with the pelvis and sternum. These findings suggest that the Microsoft Kinect™ can validly assess kinematic strategies of postural control. Given the potential benefits it could therefore become a useful tool for assessing postural control in the clinical setting.