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  Decaf   18 Mar 2018  Tech marvel: 3D Human body scan

Tech marvel: 3D Human body scan

Published : Mar 18, 2018, 2:16 am IST
Updated : Mar 18, 2018, 2:16 am IST

Structured light is where a series of linear light patterns are cast on an object.

User-friendly and very short learning curve, no matter the user’s experience level.
 User-friendly and very short learning curve, no matter the user’s experience level.

Traditionally the human body is analysed for structural and functional abnormalities by ultrasound, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging by taking three planes namely transverse (axial), sagittal (longitudinal) and coronal sections. This technique is used to evaluate structural abnormalities and take measurements by reconstructing the 2Dimensional data.

3D body scanners are 3D scanning systems designed to capture in three dimensions the full body of a person. The result obtained is an accurate 3D model or 3D avatar.


This allows to visualise the exact body shape and get accurate data such as body measurements and posture analysis. This technology was developed initially for the fashion industry as a fast and accurate 3D measurement solution.

Its applications are expanding into other fields like healthcare, 3D figurines and 3D photo, fitness or entertainment.

Application in healthcare — human body metrics — is to measure accurately and visualise a person’s body size, shape and skin-surface area. This avoids errors from manual measurements and transcription mistakes.

Clinical applications of this technology are cranial re-modelling, prosthesis designing, aesthetic prosthesis, treatment of plagiocephaly and monitoring of wound healing.


It reduces turnaround time by replacing traditional methods and makes the process seamless and worry-free for patients, thus helping in utilising computer-assisted designing (CAD) and computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM)

Application areas in medical field

  • Screenings of body development of children and adolescents
  • Trade association examinations, such as occupational checkups and expert reports
  • Control and documentation of treatment progress as pre/post comparisons, such as for physiotherapy treatment and surgical intervention
  • Assistance in plastic and reconstructive surgery for planning operations base on the 3D image
  • Making of scoliosis corsets
  • Posture analysis
  • Vascular surgery and orthopedic mechanics for making adapted artificial limbs

Benefits in healthcare are that 


Fast-scanning sessions are extremely short. Consultation times are drastically shortened, which leads to more patients being treated.

Quick, automated post-treatment as what you see is what you get: 3D surface is generated as you scan, which makes for minimal waiting time.
User-friendly and very short learning curve, no matter the user’s experience level.
Smart data files can be sent rapidly and securely over the internet to a remote fabrication centre to optimise machining process.
It is clean and great alternative to traditional, tiresome and messier casting methods.
Non-contact and non-invasive, 3D scan process causes minimal discomfort to the patient.


Other applications

  • Fitness, 3D measurements
  • 3D Figurines / 3D photos
  • Fashion industry
  • Design planning of vehicle interiors and work places
  • This operates by using 3D scanners

It uses photogrammetry, a fast 3D capture process taking many pictures of an object at once and from different angles, then processing them through an algorithm to “stitch” them together and generate a 3D model. Photogrammetry technology delivers high quality, coloured and textured body scans.

Structured light is where a series of linear light patterns are cast on an object. 

The 3D scanner then generates an accurate 3D model using triangulation. This 3D scanning technology is highly accurate but requires the subject to be very still.


3D scanners are available for industrial applications. 

Its application in medical field is not yet time tested. There are no publications in the reputed journals regarding the utility.

The writer is a radiologist.

Tags: computed tomography, 3d scanning systems