Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Great and Small
04 February 2012

Great and Small

We all come in different shapes and sizes, but measuring exactly how different we are – the science of anthropometry – has proven a challenge. Expensive equipment, such as the BodPod, allows specialists to assess body composition. The images above, however, were created using inexpensive software and household electronics. Projectors on either side of the volunteer cast patterns of light onto their body. Pairs of cameras then record how these patterns have been distorted by the bumps and curves that make up the volunteer’s body. Bespoke computer software translates the information into 3D models, which can be used to estimate a person’s body fat levels. Since the setup is simple and affordable, it could be used anywhere from a doctor’s surgery to a fitness centre. In an increasingly obese world, being able to quickly, reliably and cheaply estimate body composition has never been more important.

Written by Charles Harvey

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What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.