Anthropometry is the measurement of the size and proportions of the human body. It’s origins can be traced to the earliest humans, who needed information the body for many of the same reasons which apply today; clothing, tools and equipment … Many anthropometric measurements are possible including stature, weight, circumference, length, breadth, volume surface area structure and composition.

However, the need for anthropometric information and the type of data required varies greatly from one application to the other (medicine, orthotics, retail, footwear, ergonomics, industrial design, …).

  • Anthropometers (1)
  • Calipers (2)
  • Pupillometer (3)
  • Tape (4)
  • Brannock device (5)
  • Scales (6)

Even if these tools seem to be very easy to use, a high level of training is required to achieve high validity and accuracy of measurements.

Given that the number and techniques of measurement can be unlimited, general and specific standardization for each application is necessary so that measurements may become understood and comparable between assessors according to their application.

Measurements are defined by 3 planes and 3 axes and internationally outlined as follows:
  • Sagittal (antero-posterior) plane
  • Coronal (frontal) plane
  • Transverse plane
  • Lateral (frontal) axis
  • Longitudinal axis
  • Sagittal (antero-posterior axis)
From the perspective of specific measurements i.e. footwear, industrial product and design anthropometric databases and clothing, standards have been defined by local and international organisations e.g., ISO, ANSI, AFNOR, according to the application that is needed:
  • RAL-GZ 387/1: Medical Compression Hosiery (2008)
  • ISO 15535: General requirements for establishing anthropometric databases (2012)
  • ISO 19408: Footwear — Sizing — Vocabulary and terminology (2015)
  • ISO 7250: Basic human body measurements for technological design
    • Part 1 – Body measurement definitions and landmarks (2017)
    • ISO 8559: Size designation of clothes
      • Part 1: Anthropometric definitions for body measurement (2016)
These standards give recommendations on anatomical landmarks, the definition of measurements, tools and techniques of measurement and the pose of the model, which should be used by the assessor for their particular purpose.
However, manual measurement is time consuming. The emergence of 3D scanning in the last two decades leads to a move from the traditional techniques, to the digital form of human body measurement. Thus, new standards are being developed to normalize the way to acquire and measure the human body:
  • ISO 20685: 3-D scanning methodologies for internationally compatible anthropometric databases
      • Part 1: Evaluation protocol for body dimensions extracted from 3-D body scans (2018)
      • Part 2: Evaluation protocol of surface shape and repeatability of relative landmark positions (2015)
At Techmed 3D, we are always alert to new developments in 3D human body measurement; updates in our software are made accordingly to fit the current standards.

Sources: Adams, C. “What Is Anthropometry?” ThoughtCo, Sep. 29, 2019, Gordon, C. C., Blackwell, C. L., Bradtmiller, B., Parham, J. L., Barrientos, P., Paquette, S. P., Mucher, M. (2014). “2012 Anthropometric Survey of U.S. Army Personnel: Methods and summary statistics (No. NATICK/TR-15/007).” U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. Sato, T. O., Hansson G. A., Coury, H. J. C. G. (2010). “Goniometer Crosstalk Compensation for Knee Joint Applications.” Sensors. 10:9994-10005 Herron RE. Anthropometry: Definition, Uses and Methods of Measurement. International Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors. 3 Volume Set. 2000. 879 p.

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