CMU partners with Human Solutions to help clothing and car industries adjust to changing American sizes


Human Solutions employee, Dylan Hendricks, explains the body scan and how it can be used for vehicles to CMU students  on March 1, in the Engineering and Technology building. 

Human Solutions North American kicked off its Size North America venture on campus last night, where Central Michigan University introduced its new body scanner which will be critical for the project.

The Size North America 3D body scanning project has partnered with CMU to survey and scan thousands of adult bodies, to analyze their sizes and purchasing habits. The information will be used for clothing and vehicle manufactures who want to adjust its products appropriately for a changing population.

Robert Bona, the general manager of Human Solutions North American, said they plan to scan 450 people in the Mount Pleasant community and 17,000 people from the U.S. and Canada within the next year.

“How many people have gone into a store and walked out without finding something that fit?” Bona asked event attendees. “Have you ever gotten into a car and hit your head on the side of the door?”

Bona said this research can fix these problems by allowing industries to use sizing data that accurately reflects the current population.

He said they wanted to establish the project in Mount Pleasant because the community offers a diverse background in ethnicity and age.

“The other reason as to why we are doing it now is because in the past the body scanning, virtual fit and simulation were all separate software packages that didn’t talk to each other,” Bona said.

With this technology, the fabric qualities can now be programmed into the computer, he continued. Once programmed, the information can be uploaded onto an avatar that can move, run and sit. With the fabric uploaded, researchers can get a visual feel and appearance regarding how the fabric reacts in certain situations.

This body scanning project can also lead to faster prototyping, Bona said. For example, Under Armor was able to produce a new sports bra and legging set in three months --- a process that usually takes up to 18 months.

CMU is one of three universities in the country with the body scanning technology that is sponsoring the project. Maureen Macgillivray, a professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design who is involved with body scan research, said the university received a grant from the National Science Foundation for the equipment.

The kickoff reception was from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 1 in the Engineering and Technology Building’s lobby. Community members and interested companies gathered to learn about the project from Human Solutions representatives, look at the scanning machine and register to participate.

“Size North America is a collaborative project,” said Tanya Domina, chairperson for Human Environmental Studies. Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students from several different departments are involved.

David Ash, vice president of Research and dean of Graduate Studies, said the Size North America project allows students to work with new and relevant equipment.

The body scanner utilizes the 3D state and is the exact sort of collaboration CMU is going to require as it expands its research portfolio, Ash said.

Students interested in volunteering for the project will receive $50 for their participation and should contact CMU’s project coordinator, Susanne Wroblewski at to make an appointment.