3D body scanning: capture that!
Two times a year, InnoSportLab de Tongelreep measures several Dutch talent groups from head to toes. Not without a reason. Body composition is known to have a great influence on performance and progression. Up to now, body composition was measured with a simple, yet common, anthropometry set. Disadvantage: it takes a lot of time to measure everything we want. What if there would be a solution to this problem? Then, of course, InnoSportLab de Tongelreep would be the first to know! Well, once again they’ve found the newest technology to implement in the swimming sport: a portable 3D body scanner.
The 3D body scanner
Let͛s start with the positives of the 3D body scanner. One major advantage is that the 3D body scanner is able to measure everything (relatively) fast. This way, InnoSportLab de Tongelreep would have access to premium and potential scarce information regarding the influence of specific body characteristics on swim talent development.
A second advantage is that we can measure body (segment) volume and cross-section. For example, a 3D scanner could give information about the frontal area of a swimmer, which is indicative of a high or low water resistance. Therefore, the 3D scanner might in the future even be used in technical training as well.
Furthermore, a 3D-scan might (in theory) be more trustworthy than the regular anthropometry measurements. After all, there seems to be almost no room for misinterpretation of the measurements.
However, one of the problems with new technology is that we͛re never sure how accurate and reliable it is. To make sure that the 3D body scanner actually measures what we want it to measure, several tests have been performed by researchers of InnoSportLab de Tongelreep. Is there a difference between body composition measured with either the 3D-scanner or the anthropometry set? And is the 3D body scanner constant and reliable in its measurements?
While the concept of 3D scanning is relatively new, some studies and tests already have investigated the validity of 3D scanners. The results weren͛t very straightforward though.
Therefore, InnoSportLab de Tongelreep decided to take matters into their own hands. Tests were performed on a dummy, as well as on an actual person. Whereas the results on the dummy were very positive, the results on the persons were of less quality. On a dummy, sides of measurement can be determined very easily and constantly. On an actual person, this is somewhat more difficult. Normally, bony landmarks of the body can be detected by sight and touch or palpation. However, on a 3D scan or picture, this can only be done by sight, which causes an error to be made easily.
The second result was the low validity of the volume and circumference measurements. To measure, for example, waist circumference out of a 3D scan, multiple images had to be taken and integrated into one picture or scan. This process of image integration resulted in large measurement errors, which causes the results to be different from reality.
So? Is the 3D body scanner reliable, or should we stick with the traditional anthropometry set? After the studies performed within InnoSportLab de Tongelreep, we could state that, although the technology of 3D scanning is promising, it doesn͛t benefit our measurements at this moment. As we speak, new recommendations are considered to improve the validity of the 3D scanner.