U.S. Army scientists are working with a new database of the human body to ensure uniforms and equipment fit female and male soldiers better.
The Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, completed the latest comprehensive anthropometric survey of soldiers, called ANSUR II, in 2012.
The ANSUR II 3-D Shape Database uses three-dimensional shapes and contour data to improve the fit of clothing and equipment for warfighters. It incorporates the latest Army anthropometric survey data and 3-D whole body scans, providing a searchable platform for the data and the 3-D shapes.
The previous survey was completed in 1988.
The 2012 survey set out to address changes in Army personnel body size and shape, and the resulting data showed that soldiers have increased in overall body girth since 1988. The new study also set out to document the sizing needs of the increasing number of women serving in the military.
The 2012 data collection included 3-D scans of the head, foot and entire body to provide data that could not be obtained through traditional body measurement techniques, Army officials maintain.
"We developed our own shape descriptor and query method for 3-D body scans," Peng Li, a computer scientist on NSRDEC's anthropology team said. "It will help determine different shapes for body armor and protection and gear for heads and faces."
Most of the data over the years have been traditional measurements taken with calipers and tape measures.
The study included 7,435 men and 3,922 women. The goal was to acquire data from males and females to help Army engineers, scientists and designers develop equipment, clothing, shelters, kitchens, airplane cockpits, and vehicle crew stations that best serve the dimensions of the soldier.
Women's body dimensions are very different from their male counterparts, and they need equipment, such as body armor, designed for them specifically. Smaller versions of items developed for males do not fit female soldiers properly. Team members devised eight new sizes based on the female anatomy data.
"Comfort, performance, safety and fit - that's what it's all about," said Steve Paquette, a research anthropologist and team leader for NSRDEC's anthropology team. "If it doesn't fit right, you don't even want to wear it."