"From forensics to fashion, computer scientists are on the case. A new software program detects what's beneath clothing to create a 3-D body image that helps police ID criminals and may also one day help fashionistas figure out what look best.
Law enforcement officials are using a grainy, distorted video to help solve a murder. They want to determine the size of the man in the video, but his baggy clothes camouflage his physique.
Now a new software program can look beyond clothing and help detect gender, height and weight, as well as chest and waist size. More than 2,000 detailed laser range scans of men and women of all different shapes and sizes make up a database. The software then uses those cumulative statistics to create a 3-D image of the person caught on tape.
"What we do is we actually use the person's movement, so as I move my clothing, different parts of it become loose and tight in different parts of my body," Michael Black, a computer scientist at Brown University in Providence, R.I., told Ivanhoe.
By analyzing the body in different positions, the computer can determine a person's true shape. Despite the man's baggy clothing, many different poses are combined to create a 3-D model from which height is computed.
"We get it very accurate, to within a millimeter or two millimeters," Black said.
The program determined that the man's height was 5 feet 11 inches. For police, the information could be a break in their case.
"It helps in the initial phases," Lt. Dennis Princine, of Rhode Island State Police in Scituate, R.I., told Ivanhoe. "It gives us some initial information, and it will also help on the prosecution of these cases."
The software could eventually be used in the fashion industry. Customers could try clothing on online before they make a purchase.
Two provisional patents are pending on the software, and the computer scientists hope it will go commercial in the next two years.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report." (Continued via Breakthroughs Inside Science) [Ergonomics Resources]