3D Body Scanning and Visualization in Apparel Industry
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTEs Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
3D body scanning was introduced almost 30 years ago and was firstly introduced in the movie industry in the film Terminator 2 in 1991 when only computer graphics was not acceptable and there was a need for reality. It has started exploring its way in many industries like medical, military, textile, aeronautics, and many more.
In the apparel and clothing industry, in the beginning it was only introduced for military purposes and mostly for ergonomics. But after carrying out various experiments it was used in various retail shops, boutiques, etc.
First 3D body scanner system for apparel was bought by the University of Loughborough (UK) in 1989. Since people differing from various geographical regions vary in body shape and proper fit of the garment with its valuable aesthetics is only accepted by customers. Therefore, many complications related to garment sizing including poor fit inconvenience were solved using 3D technology. And that is why well fitted garments came into demand. Hence 3D body scanning in apparel is considered as a ‘Significant bridge’ between Craftsmanship and CAD Technology-(Phoebe R. Apeagyei). In this article I will discuss on 3D body design and visualization in apparel industry.
2. Development of 3D Body Scanning Technology
In the apparel industry, fit is given utmost importance. And this was recognized when a team of astronauts had to cancel their spacewalk planned by NASA as a woman could not find a perfect fit spacesuit. Hence, change in movements of body especially during special missions in spacesuits, military clothing, sportswear and firefighter clothing have extreme postures and fit matters a lot in this condition. Because of this, it is a sole job of designer to also add movement data into patterns while designing performance garments. And that is why measurements are considered as fundamentals for clothing producers as well as buyers.
2.1 First 3D Scanner:
The earliest scanner was developed by CAESAR (Civilian American &European Surface Anthropometry Research Project). It was a very complex scanner weighing about 450kg and costing around US$350,000. This scanner is considered as complex as it took various scans for lighting scheme, coloring scheme, landmark detection scheme, and many more and it took about a week to collaborate all the scans together and get the final scan.
2.2 Portable Scanner:
Somewhere around 2000 a German based company ViaLux Germany produced BodyLux Scanner which was portable and comparatively cheaper. It is a combination of Micromirror projection and phase encoded photography. And one of the major advantages over complex scanners was it almost took 50 sec to give the final output scans and also doesn’t require special clothing. And also it was beneficial as it only weighs somewhere around 35kg and costs upto US$22,000. Also, it helped in calculations related to tailoring.
2.3 Further Development
Further development in 3D body scanner was brought up by Artec3D, Luxembourg which developed the scanner ArtecEva in 2017 which weighed less than 1 kg and costing was around US$20,000 and are called as Handheld scanners. With Booth type (static) scanners, sometimes it was difficult to measure parts especially for pressure garments. So it helped in measuring different body parts for Pressure garments. But these types of scanners are still new in the market.
Major disadvantage of both booth types as well as handheld scanners is that they require professionals and scanning is carried out at certain controlled conditions. So one of the company called MirrorSize (Mirrorsize.com) has a free download app which gives a 3D avatar in seconds and it can be used for virtual try-on. Hence, there are lot of low cost consumer devices like webcams, mobile phones which can be used to scan the body and create 3D avatar of yourself.
Now further attempts have been made to scan the body without using scanning devices. In one of the recent research papers by Molyboga and Makeev (2018) , they tried using 2D content of a human body from a single image of clothed persons. After applying filters and detectors to selected body parts of 2D contours, the 3D model is subsequently generated and gives out the measurements.
To conclude this various attempts beginning from the heavy body scanners we have reached to scanning without scanning devices with the help of technology advancement. With complex and costly measurement technology consuming a lot of time is now being simple such that it can be handled by a particular individual and gives real time scans. But this technology is only used for performance garments and hence the future of this scanning can be targeted to online and offline retail operations and give a good service to customers.
3. Types of 3D Body Scanning:
3D body scanning can be carried out in basic three ways:
- Light based System
- Laser based System
- Microwave based System
Now these three types can be further divided into various types.
3.1. Light Based System
Light based system are further divided as
- Shadow Scanning
- White Light Scanning System
- Light Emitting Diodes
3.1.a Shadow Scanning System-
Companies- LASS (Loughborough Anthropometric Shadow Scanning), SYMCAD by Telemat
Advantage of using the Shadow scanning system is that there is no effect due to skin color as shadow is scanned. And it only requires a Camera, desk-lamp, pencil and a board with a grid. There is a screen faced by a camera illuminated by a halogen desk lamp. It can be turned 360°and also has an automated computerized 3D measurement system based on a triangulation system.
3.1.b White Light Scanning System
Companies– Textile/Clothing Technology Corporation (TC²), Wicks and Wilson Limited.
White light scanning system uses PMP (Phase Measuring Projection) technique. It has CCD which is linked to computer which detects body and deformed light strip is formed. An output is given from each view and has to be collaborated together to get the final output. Each view is combined with the exact view of another for exact orientation while collaborating. Final output is generated after processing it with filtering, smoothing, compressing, etc. One of the disadvantages is that it doesn’t provide colour information but it is quite faster than shadow scanning.
3.1.c Light Emitting Diodes
In this process, light is reflected from one object and collected in a detector lens. It uses InfraRed Light Emitting Diodes to obtain data. It gives the widest dispersion of the measurement values and thus larger circumference measurements can also be produced using the method.
3.2. Laser Based System
Companies– CyberWare, Human Solution, Vitronic, etc.
In this system various scan heads are placed and there is projection of laser lights on the body. And these projections are reflected into cameras located in scan heads. One of the advantages of this system is that it gives colour coded landmarks for data extraction by using RGB colour values. It is also called as Non contact optical laser scanning system. It is highly versatile and manufactured as a portable tool for accurate scientific application. Among all of the above companies, Vitrus by Vitronic was the most advanced which automatically calculated body dimensions.
3.3 Microwave Based Study
It was developed by Pacific Northwest National Lab for the US Department of Energy for various materials and it was also tried for apparel and was found out to be successful. It rotates in 360° and gives the final output in less than 10 seconds and results in a high resolution 3D image and hence considered as one of the advanced systems from all of the above.
4. Advantages of 3D Body Scanning Technology
- Speed– Scanning is much faster than that of the traditional measurement tapes.
- Accurate– As there is a reduction in many body movements, there are less chances of error and hence more accurate than that of traditional one.
- Ease to tailor– Tailor can easily extract any measurement as there are infinite no. of measurements available and at any time.
- Ease to consumer– In future, it will be very easy for consumers to produce custom-fit garments once they have all their measurements after scanning.
5. Disadvantages of 3D Body Scanning Technology
- Obstruction– Hair can obstruct the measurements of neck and shoulder. And different reflection can be produced due to difference in hair color.
- Effect due to apparels– Reflections may vary due to apparels’ fold. Light scanning technology and laser based systems have effects due to apparels. Loose garments may produce large measurements and too tight garments may produce shorter measurements than they are. But this is not a disadvantage in Microwave system. There is no effect due to apparel in such systems.
- Invisibility of parts– Many parts are not visible by vision devices such as top of the shoulder, top of neck, crotch, etc.
- Cost– More sophisticated the system, the more cost is. Hence this system are more costly than manual measurements system
- This system requires physical landmarks or pre-marked landmarks.
6. Application in Apparel
6.1. Anthropometric size surveys-
For various size surveys to avoid errors, data is gathered using such technologies. Examples of such surveys are CAESAR (Civilian American & European Surface Anthropometry Research Project), SizeUK, SizeUSA, Sizekorea, SizeMexico and many more.
6.2. Mass customization strategies-
Some of the strategies to target audience, attract customers and earn profit were made using such technologies. Some of the examples are
- Levi Strauss- It provided customers opportunity to be scanned and make a pair of jeans made. (Lajoie,1999)
- LANDS’ END- It introduced MY VIRTUAL MODEL TOUR 2000- world’s first scanning truck. It gave opportunity to scan themselves and get accurate measurements and shop custom fit garments from LANDS’ END catalogue (Bobbin, 2001)
Examples of such more companies are Brooks Brother who placed a body scanner for men’s clothing line, Benchmark Clothiers gave opportunity to scan customers to offer customized garments, Lori Coulter True Measure makes swimsuits using scanned data to fit each woman’s unique shape, Bodymetrics offered custom jeans, 3D garment visualization and also allowed customers to select fabric, rise and leg style using TC² and many more such companies have jumped into such technologies and have witnessed a lot of increment in sales.
6.3. Fit and shape evaluation
Many studies related to fit and shape evaluation using such 3D technologies are being done across the world by various universities, businesses in some form or another. Many sizing systems have been developed to provide suggestions to improve the apparel companies for fit. Various studies like mass customization business process, 3D scanning, fit preferences according to the body shape, measurement data are being carried out. Researches at Auburn University, Alabama are working out to connect fit with shape, demographics and measurement data.(Auburn 2007)
Not only advancement in sizing and fit but also contributed to developing related technology like FFIT (Female Figure Identification Technique) software. This software uses body scan measurement data to classify nine distinct body shapes (Hourglass, Bottom Hourglass, Top hourglass, Spoon, Rectangle, Diamond, Oval, Triangle and Inverted Triangle) using only six measurements (bust, waist, hip, high hip, stomach and abdomen). Including men in shape classification and complicated 3D shape definitions are some of the research being yet done. (Simmons, 2002)
Also conversion of 3D patterns into 2D pattern development is a TC² software launched in 2004. Automatic conversion of 3D garments into 2D patterns and can be imported to CAD systems in the format Drawing Interchange File (DXB).
So many such technologies have been developed related to fit and shape using such 3D technologies.
6.4. Virtual modelling and online fit analysis
Once the body is scanned, a 3D avatar can be developed enabling visualization using various softwares like Optitex, PAD, Browwear, Tukatech, etc. And on these avatars 2D patterns can be set which demonstrate the drape of fabric. Virtual try-on is quite advanced nowadays and appears where the garment won’t fit. Though there is a lot of advancement in virtual tryon but physical testing session has more value than that of the created avatar.
My Virtual Model was one of the efforts discussed earlier in mass customization strategies by Lands’ End. They brought up the concept of Virtual-tryon available online for consumers to visualize the dress without body scan or measurements. It just required the customers to enter basic information like body shapes, small or large busts, narrow or wider waists, etc. And in some cases, it also asked for hair colour, skin colour and facial characteristics to make a more engaging avatar. Hence it allowed the customers how a garment would look onto their body.
As we know 3D body scanning was developed almost 30 years ago and over the time it has developed and found its way in many industries. It has shown a great potential in the apparel industry too. It is considered as an effective tool for the measurement of human body for tailoring purpose it has advantages as discussed earlier like speed, more accurate and is quite easy for both tailors as well as consumers over the traditional measurement technique but it can also be improved by reducing the landmark process or becoming more cost effective so that it can be used by many of them. 3D body technologies are yet in the developing stage and will soon be essential for long term use of this technology in the apparel industry. It provides tools to create better fit of clothing and has even lead to development of other related technologies and all of them are obviously helping in the development of a particular product in a better way.
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- D’Apuzzo, N. (2007, January). 3D body scanning technology for the fashion and apparel industry. In Videometrics IX (Vol. 6491, p. 64910O). International Society for Optics and Photonics.
- D’Apuzzo, N., & Gruen, A. (2009). Recent advances in 3D full body scanning with applications to fashion and apparel. Optical 3-D measurement techniques IX, 2.
- Advances in Apparel Production. (2008). United Kingdom: Elsevier Science.
- Zakaria, N., & Gupta, D. (2019). Anthropometry, Apparel Sizing and Design (The Textile Institute Book Series) (2nd ed.). Woodhead Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-102604-5.00001-9
Image courtesy: https://techstartups.com & https://apparelresources.com
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.