Human Body Scanning and Morphometry for Comfort and Performance Studies
Integrated comfort and performance assessment studies can help designers and engineers optimize product appeal, improve product fit and comfort, and reduce or distribute biomechanical loads. This is especially important for wearable technologies, apparel, and shoes, where the goal is to couple the product closely with the user’s body. Integrating explicit body morphology measurements into such research can help target key dimensions and features to be considered in product design, thus providing a more individualized user experience.
Technology and Techniques
At its state-of-the-art Phoenix User Research Center (PURC), Exponent has developed a unique framework, integrating high-resolution and high-fidelity scanning technologies with automated and semi-automated feature detection algorithms to efficiently characterize a broad range of morphologic factors across diverse population demographics. Using this approach, we have successfully quantified a variety of individual-specific morphologic parameters, subsequently correlating them with critical product comfort and performance metrics. This novel approach leverages our expansive user experience, usability, and biomechanics expertise and experience.
Characterizing body morphology may be useful for a variety of products that interact directly with the body and where individual variations may influence contact points, pressure distribution and magnitudes, and resulting user movements. Integrating such outcomes with concomitant product-driven user perceptions and experiences provides an innovative framework through which to optimize and individualize product outcomes.
Examples of our Framework in Action
Exponent has established protocols to automatically/semi-automatically detect morphological features and correlate them with key biomechanical and user experience metrics, enabling larger population sample sizes. Below are examples of such frameworks in action. These frameworks can also be applied to a multitude of other applications, including but not limited to products that interface with the hands, chest, or legs.
1. Headgear Comfort and Fit Studies Using Morphometry
Exponent has evaluated comfort and fit for several products worn on participants’ heads and faces (Figure 1). First, the participants’ heads were scanned. Then, participants performed various activities with the products. Pressure measurements and subjective measures of comfort were obtained during the various activities. A multitude of morphological feature points were then automatically/semi-automatically found through our custom-built software tool. Morphological measurements were subsequently correlated with key product aspects linked to fit and comfort. Prioritized morphological metrics were defined and provided to inform next-generation product design.
2. Footwear Studies Using Morphometry
Exponent has experience characterizing the influence of shoe design and fit on user comfort, foot loading and pressure distributions, and resultant whole-body biomechanics (Figure 2). Exponent has scanned participants’ feet, loaded (under body weight) and unloaded. Custom-built software can automatically/semi-automatically extract morphological features. Analytical models enable identification of product-centric relations between explicit morphometry, biomechanical performance metrics, and comfort/experience metrics.