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Digital technology charts military physique; [Final Edition]
Sarah StaplesThe Ottawa CitizenOttawa, Ont.: Dec 22, 2004. pg. C.2
People:Yin, Shi
Author(s):Sarah Staples
Document types:Business
Section:Business
Publication title:The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ont.: Dec 22, 2004.  pg. C.2
Source type:Newspaper
ISSN/ISBN:08393222
ProQuest document ID:771538001
Text Word Count539
Document URL:http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=771538001&sid=-1&Fmt=3&cl ientId=1525&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Abstract (Document Summary)

Technology that gathers ultra-precise measurements for military uniforms is being rolled out at bases across Canada. Troops, clad only in their underwear, step inside an 2.5-metre-high booth, click on a joystick and wait several seconds while two cameras snap a digital image and software converts it into 3-D.

The "Body Scanning System for 21st Century," or "BoSS-21" units - - jointly developed by the Defence Department and a University of Toronto imaging researcher -- is already in use at bases in Trenton, Esquimalt, B.C., Edmonton, and St. Jean, Que., where it captures 37 measurements in 40 seconds.

"You'll be able to answer questions like, 'Is the navy a certain size?', and contrast that with the army (from) statistics about the size and shape ... ," said the device's co-creator Shi Yin, a 43- year-old electrical engineer, and chief executive of VisImage Systems Inc.

Full Text (539   words)
(Copyright The Ottawa Citizen 2004)

Canadian troops are stripping off their uniforms in a precedent- setting experiment that could ultimately provide the most detailed digital snapshot ever taken for such a large segment of Canada's population.

Technology that gathers ultra-precise measurements for military uniforms is being rolled out at bases across Canada. Troops, clad only in their underwear, step inside an 2.5-metre-high booth, click on a joystick and wait several seconds while two cameras snap a digital image and software converts it into 3-D.

Databases containing body measurements for uniforms will be networked, the statistics aggregated and compared. The result will be a historic analysis of the Canadian Forces' average physique.

The "Body Scanning System for 21st Century," or "BoSS-21" units - - jointly developed by the Defence Department and a University of Toronto imaging researcher -- is already in use at bases in Trenton, Esquimalt, B.C., Edmonton, and St. Jean, Que., where it captures 37 measurements in 40 seconds.

Eight more systems will be in place at bases by 2008.

Portability will transform more than just the complicated business of provisioning 200 uniform styles for 60,000 members of the Canadian navy, army and air force.

"You'll be able to answer questions like, 'Is the navy a certain size?', and contrast that with the army (from) statistics about the size and shape ... ," said the device's co-creator Shi Yin, a 43- year-old electrical engineer, and chief executive of VisImage Systems Inc.

Measurements will be 100-per-cent accurate, and instantly retrievable from anywhere in the country.

Military planners will be able to deduce information to improve decision-making in a range of situations. Knowing how thin or obese soldiers are from different bases might lead to changes in menu design, for example.

"Or, you might need different kinds of garments in Edmonton rather than Victoria, where it's more temperate, so you'll be able to quantify how cold it is and figure out if you'll need more fleece, and if so how much more," Mr. Yin said.

U.S. and French militaries have developed their own body scanners, but at less than $50,000, Mr. Yin's is one-fifth the price. It's the only one with a cubicle for privacy, and has the most sophisticated artificial intelligence, he said.

The strongest interest in such technology outside the military comes from government health officials, who see scanning as a cheaper, error-free way to take a physical census of citizens.

SizeUK and SizeUSA, studies carried out by the governments of Britain and United States in 2001 and 2002, scanned thousands of volunteers using equipment developed for the garment industry and found astounding physical changes in the population, including rising rates of obesity.

Brazil, China, Korea, Australia, France and Mexico are among nations now planning, or conducting, similar health-oriented projects. The European Commission wants to use scanning data to standardize rules for clothing sizes across member states.

Michael Wolfson, assistant chief statistician for Statistics Canada who runs the health-statistics program, said the federal government is considering a low-dose x-ray technology, called Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry, or DEXA, for a national survey of Canadians' physical health to begin in 2007.

Body scanners have also started showing up in commercial use at some retail stores in New York, as gimmicks to market better- tailored clothes.

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