Challenges in the application of anthropometric measurements

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Traditional anthropometry is characterized by measuring distances, circumferences and weights. All these values are one-dimensional. A further area of anthropometric research is measuring of human forces. These values must also be indicated as one-dimensional measures. All the called values show, according to the human variability, various distributions. In order to simplify the indication of this distribution, the 5th, 50th and 95th-percentiles are shown in the most anthropometric tables. By the introduction of computer technology, it becomes possible to create three-dimensional representatives of the human body called soft-dummies. The dimensions of these dummies, however, are always based on the onedimensional level of the traditional measurements. In the last few years, however, new scanner technologies were shown by which a three-dimensional description of the body surface is possible. By this technique, a very dense list of threedimensional points is created. The position of these points depends on the arbitrary relation between the body to be measured and the position of the scanning system. That means that the measured points are not functionally related to a certain body point. So, it is not possible to carry out statistical analysis over these points. If, however, a soft-dummy is blown up in the shape defined by these scanner points, the parameters by which the dummy is described may be used for statistical analysis. This is really a new form of anthropometric measurement and application, which will get increasing importance in the future. With dummies, new additional abilities may be simulated. For instance, the dummy can be provided with forces, the dummy can be animated and so show movements, and the dummy can have contact with the virtual surfaces of a CAD-world and should show responsible deformations. For all these cases, new anthropometric data are necessary which jump over the border of traditional anthropometry. In order to pick up these measures, new measuring systems must be developed. Three-dimensional force measuring equipment must be developed. Movement can be measured by the triangulation of markers. That is an introduced and established technique. However, in many test situations and, especially, in real life these markers obstruct the freedom of movement. Thus, new contact-less techniques must be developed in order to satisfy this demand. Also, the contact between body and surface (especially seats) must be investigated in a soft-dummy related manner. In order to use all these new data, a mathematical modelling is necessary, by which a prediction in situations which are unknown during the investigation phase is possible. A further advantage for the designer is the reproductive behaviour of the soft-dummy is opposite to a real person. By such a technique, the experience with living subjects is not refused, but the first approach will be much more human related than is possible on the basis of the present data material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • 3D-force measurement
  • Anthropometric typology
  • Body scanning
  • Body-posture measurement
  • Comfort assessment
  • Movement simulation
  • Three-dimensional computer dummy
  • Two-dimensional manikin


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