Have a fit: Participants needed to contribute their body-size to science

Have trouble finding clothes that fit well? Want a more comfortable seat in the airplane, bus or stadium?

Now Colorado residents from age 6 to 75 have a chance to contribute to a database that a variety of industries will rely on for years to develop products that fit the human body better. Participants also receive a $20 gift card for their time.

Tyler Klene being scanned
Graduate student Tyler Klene getting scanned

“Size NorthAmerica” is an effort to learn more about the average body size, categorized by age and ethnicity, in the U.S. and Canada. The project is sponsored by major corporations that need updated measurements of average body sizes, from the auto industry to the clothing industry.

And from May 31 through Aug. 17, Colorado State University is home to one of only four sizing sites in the West — and a high-tech scanner that uses beams of light to safely and quickly map the exact dimensions of a person’s body.

Student involvement

Juyeon Park, an associate professor in CSU’s Department of Design and Merchandising, has enlisted some of her undergraduate and graduate students to help with the project, which is based in Room C106 of Aylesworth Hall.

Kayna Hobbs at the computer
Grad student Kayna Hobbs, running the scanner

People fill out an anonymous questionnaire before undergoing the scanning process, which begins with measuring participants’ height when standing, height while seated, head circumference and bicep circumference.

Then it’s into the 10-foot-by-10-foot scanner, where harmless red beams of light roll down the body, measuring distances to its outline and recording a 3-D map of each person in four different poses. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

In one pose, participants are in a standing position with relaxed arms. In the second pose, the person stands with arms slightly away from the body and a clenched fist, as if they are carrying a suitcase.

From apparel to autos

In another pose, the hand is extended with fingers spread, which will benefit glove manufacturers, for instance.

In the last pose, participants are seated with one hand in a karate-chop position, which will help manufacturers of products that involve sitting, such as lawn mowers, industrial machinery, automobiles and aircraft.

Group photo in front of scanner

From left are grad student Kayna Hobbs, Associate Professor Juyeon Park, grad student Tyler Klene and undergraduates Isabelle Clement and Hank Bennett.

“Instead of measuring someone by hand with a tape measure for hours, this does a scan in 10 seconds and you’re done,” says Tyler Klene, a graduate student in the department who wants to pursue an apparel design career.

Hank Bennett measuring Isabelle Clement
Hank Bennett, right, measures Isabelle Clement’s bicep.

“Not many universities can offer something like this,” adds undergraduate student Isabelle Clement. “Having this real-world experience is awesome.”

See more stories from CSU’s Department of Design and Merchandising.

First one in 15 years

The resulting database of body sizes will be accessible only to the corporations that help pay for the project. Some of those companies are hosting similar measurement sites with scanners at their headquarters; the goal is to survey and measure a total of 18,000 people.

Program flyerThe last time a similar effort was undertaken was 15 years ago, and Colorado wasn’t involved. This time around, Park asked Size NorthAmerica officials to include the Centennial State.

“They need to include Colorado, because we are one of the leanest states,” says Park, whose specialties include the role of human factors in design and functional product development with the use of the latest technology, such as 3-D body scanning, virtual reality, smart materials and sensing.

She’s encouraging entire families to participate, noting that those $20 gift cards for each participant can pile up. Participants will also get to keep the brand-new undergarments that they put on in an adjacent dressing room before being scanned.

Sizing sessions are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during the two and a half months. To make an appointment, visit www.sizenorthamerica.com/.

Tyler Klene being scanned

Klene can see the image of his body from inside the scanner.