The Next Whole Body Project Revs Up

Cyberware's Whole Body 3D scanners are on their way to revolutionizing the art and science of working with human forms. When the next WB scanner goes to the U.S. Army's Natick Research, Development & Engineering Center (NRDEC), it will gather data for everything from uniforms to body armor.

NRDEC is acquiring a WB2 in a joint effort with the Defense Logistics Agency. Under the direction of senior scientist Claire Gordon and coordinator Steve Paquette, the 3D anthropometry program has far ranging plans.

The prospect of making Army and Marine Corps uniforms that actually fit might seem revolutionary enough, but NRDEC's goals go much farther. When it comes to protective suits and masks, a precise fit can make a life-or-death difference. Body armor must cover critical areas on soldiers of all shapes and sizes. Devices such as heads-up displays and night-vision goggles must accommodate all users. And the design of basic equipment such as backpacks can help or hinder troops on the ground. Accurate whole body data can help in all these areas.

According to Brian Corner, a research anthropologist on contract to NRDEC via the company GEO-CENTERS, the data gathered with the WB scanner will augment existing anthropometric data collected with traditional methods and go into a 3D image database that will eventually be available to the public from the Defense Technology Information Center. To gather that data, Corner expects to scan large numbers of men and women to get an idea of the range of variation in body forms that the Army has to fit. The data will help suppliers design clothing and equipment, as well as helping the Army evaluate proposed items for correct performance. Starting accommodation testing with a virtual soldier will be far less expensive than launching immediately into field trials.

When designing full-coverage protective body suits, for instance, engineers need to be careful about heat build-up, which depends partially on the wearer's body surface area. The old way of gathering surface-area data was to past wet tissue paper on someone's body, peel it off, and measure it. To absolutely no one's surprise, anthropologists have not gathered this sort of data for very many individuals. Cyberware's WB scanner and software automatically provide accurate surface-area information in seconds.

Ultimately, the Army would like to be able to make a 3D scan of each new recruit and transmit the data to manufacturers, who will have a complete kit of perfectly fitting clothing and equipment ready by the time the recruit has completed the induction process. While this vision is many years from fruition, the Army has nearer-term plans for a just-enough-inventory program, which will enable rapid response without warehousing huge stockpiles of material. Achieving this goal is possible only by gathering accurate information about body shapes and sizes--a task at which Cyberware's Whole Body scanners are unrivaled.

Healing in 3D

To treat patients, who have facial burns, physicians sometimes have then wear a clear, rigid plastic mask. These total-contact burn masks evenly distribute pressure on the patient's face to compensate for the lack of tension in the burned tissue, and that helps reduce scarring. Because the burned tissue takes on the shape of the mask, the mask's fit is crucial.

Traditionally, burn masks have been made by applying alginate and plaster to the patient's face to create a mold. In addition to being slow, uncomfortable, and risky, this process doesn't produce completely accurate results because the molding material's weight can distort the shape of the face.

A Cyberware 3D scanner may provide a better way, as reported by biomedical engineer Jennifer Whitestone in a recent issue of "CSERIAC Gateway." CSERIAC is the US Dept. of Defense's Crew System Ergonomics Information Analysis Center, associated with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Working with the Cyberware PS scanner at Wright-Patterson, a team of prosthetists, physicians, physical therapists, and engineers from Miami Valley Hospital, Fidelity Orthopedic, Inc., the USAF, and Advent Corp. are investigating the use of 3D scanning to produce burn masks. Software developed at Wright-Patterson performs the necessary processing steps (data editing, analysis, and visualization), and the masks are made using an automated milling machine. For comparison, the team also made masks for the same patients using the traditional methods.

Whitestone notes that a mask produced using the Cyberware scanner "displays better definition and more accurately represents the contours from the patient's face." Clinical results will show whether the masks with the better fit provide better results.

Based on this initial study, the International Association of Firefighters has funded a phase-II study that will further investigate the technology's potential. The study will also evaluate the use of stereolithography, a rapid prototyping method, for building the final mask directly from the 3D model.

Scanning Tips & Tricks

Pasting Models Together in Echo

The availability of software tools for zippering multiple scans into a single model can make Echo's ability to paste objects together seem obsolete. But if you understand Echo's pasting process, you can assemble scans quickly--much faster than with other approaches. A good rule of thumb is that zippering-related methods work well for irregular scans, and Echo is highly efficient when you have regular linear or cylindrical scans you want to join. Doing the job with Echo also allows you to remain in the Echo environment, which can simplify other tasks.

Say you want to scan a 400mm high object in two linear passes on a 3030MS. You scan the bottom half into file A, then move the scanning camera up 210mm so that the second scan overlaps the first. Put the second scan into file B.

To paste these sections together in Echo, open file B first, resize the file vertically so that it's big enough to contain both scans; keep the width the same. Now, move the B section upward by 300 latitude increments (210 mm divided by 0.7, the 3030's latitude conversion factor). Moving B upward by the same increments you move the scanning camera will make scan A and B align automatically.

Make a window into which you will past scan A, and size the window so that you get about a 50% overlap. When you paste file A into the window, the two scans should overlap and line up exactly. If you miscalculate and get a slight gap between scans, you can use Echo's smoothing function to get a continuous surface. With a little practice, you can use Echo to paste many scans into one model in a few minutes.

Cyber-Web Home Page

Cyberware now has a home page on the World Wide Web, where you can investigate new products, scanning service partners, demonstration software and 3D models, distributors, and a variety of other tops. You'll find links to other Cyberware-related Web sties. And you can obtain technical support information, including an updated description of file conversions to and from Cyberware formats and information on CyZip scripts.

You can reach our home page at: http://www.cyberware.com

A New Way to Zip

Phil Dench (Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia) has come up with a new software tool that simplifies scan zippering in many cases. You must know the angle of the original scan, and you can't reorient the parts at will, but within these constraints, you can zip parts together in minutes.

Extending Credit

The image of character Odo in Star Trek Deep Space 9, which appeared on this page in issue 5 and 6, was scanned by Viewpoint Datalabs for Visionart.

Cyber_Site, Expands Cyberware's European Presence

Providing scans of movie stars, rock stars, and creatures from distant stars, Cyber_Site Europe is playing a starring role as Cyberware's United Kingdom distributor. In addition to scanning the various types of stars for movies, rock videos, and video games, Cyber_Site scanned seven bank managers for a virtual reality presentation. The company also scanned a model human hand, which was then animated for a UK National Lottery commercial.

Recent customers for scanners include universities, a toy company and a defense organization.

Cyber_Site's Bryan Clark reports good results in broadening the company's market for scanners and services by keeping in touch with local Wavefront, Alias, and Softimage distributors. They have also established a good relationship with Silicon Graphics. As part of the Cyberware family, Cyber_Site looks forward to developing closer ties with other Cyberware international distributors.

You can contact Cyber_Site at Silverdale Road, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 3BN, UK; telephone 44-0181-573-1526; fax 44-0181-573-0152.

Imageware, Cyberdata-data

Ann Arbor, MI-based Imageware has enhanced its Surfacer software to read Cyberware data files directly. The program originally read only ASCII and IGES files, but Surfacer's new ability to take advantage of the structured data in Cyberware's native format helps generate NURBS representations faster. For more information, contact Imageware, 313 N First Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, Telephone 303-994-7300, Fax 313-994-7303.

See Us at SIGGRAPH

The Cyberware booth at this year's SIGGRAPH in the Los Angeles Convention Center will display a complete Whole Body scanner. Come by Booth #1039 and see a demonstration of this revolutionary system.

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