Virtual human helps out

Walking, kneeling, sitting down: a normal person takes these movements for granted. But for computers to simulate such motion requires sophisticated software and extensive pools of data. The Fraunhofer-Institut fur Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO (Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering) in Stuttgart, in co-operation with IST in Gernsheim near Darmstadt, has now developed a software module that provides an extremely realistic representation of the human body in virtual environments: Virtual Anthropos.

Unlike previous computer-animated humans, Virtual Anthropos works in real time; it requires only a fraction of a second to calculate and display movements. Virtual Anthropos has a full complement of joints and is very precise. The typical movements of a human have been stored in an anthropometric database created by IST. The movements were recorded by six sensors on a real person-on the head, hands, feet, and torso.

Using the model, different layouts of a workplace can be tried out to discover which is the most ergonomic before it is implemented. In combination with CAD systems, Virtual Anthropos can be used to help equip a complete factory and show how a motor car could be assembled.