Virtual human lab for high-precision body measurement

Virtual human lab for high-precision body measurement

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Toppan Printing in Japan has launched a lab to capture accurate information about the human body and make it accessible via an API interface.

The “Toppan Virtual Human Lab” will undertake research and development on human body measurements using a Light Stage from the University of Southern California (USC) for high-precision facial scanning. This will use technology from the film industry to create data for the digitalization of the human body such as more realistic avatars. 

The lab will record movement of the musculoskeletal system, take body measurements—such as hand and foot shape—and process the information into various forms. The research and development undertaken will enable an end-to-end service from measurement to production of 3D computer graphics, visual media, and other content.

Information related to people’s bodies and health is increasingly used for business but the burden on users, who have to register information for each service separately presents an obstacle to more widespread use of such data.

The lab is part of a “Human Body Information Platform” being developed by Toppan that provides a one-stop solution for registration, processing, and management of this information for a wide range of services. The lab appears to be providing generic data rather than measurement of specific individuals that would have significant data provacy issues in Europe. 

By providing the required functions and information via an application programming interface (API), the platform will contribute to business development, says Toppan. The data from the lab research will improve input methods for the Human Body Information Platform and expand a database of valuable information for individuals and businesses that supports the creation of new services.

The Light Stage is operated by controlling multiple light sources in a spherical dome to enable scanning of not just face shape but also tone and texture with a high degree of accuracy.

This data can be used for the development of processing engines for creating photoreal avatars or running optical simulations of layers of cosmetics.

Toppan plans to roll out an end-to-end solution from high-definition facial image photography to 3D computer graphic processing. The data output will be displayable online via an original viewer developed by Toppan, with a smartphone app also planned. These and other initiatives will expand the use of the Light Stage beyond the film industry and open up possibilities for cutting-edge applications in such sectors as cosmetics, clothing, advertising, sports, and healthcare.

“Toppan will be receiving some of the world’s most advanced technology for human digitization, based on Light Stage systems which have won two Academy Awards and have scanned some of the world’s most famous and important people,” said Dr. Paul Debevec, Adjunct Research Professor, USC, who led the original development of the Light Stage technologies. “We have enjoyed working with Toppan many times since the early 2000’s, and we have every expectation they will develop important new capabilities with this technology.”

“In establishing a platform for information on the human body, we intend to enhance functions for measurement and enable the use of the data to help businesses generate new services matched to their targets and individuals,” said Jin Endo, Executive Officer of Toppan’s Business Development Division and R&D Strategy Office. “We will engage in co-creation with customers from wide-ranging sectors to expand the use of the Light Stage and explore innovative applications that stretch the imagination.” 

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