Chapter 11
Digital Human in Engineering and Bioengineering Applications


Human factors are involved in several steps of product life and the capability to account for them effectively is a key point for a winning product on the market. However, the way a human will function in relation to a product or system is difficult to predict, yet ergonomic considerations traditionally have been addressed by intuition or rough calculations. Physical tests can be performed long after the product or system can be changed easily or without a huge loss of time and money. Too often, this leads to product redesigns or massive cost overruns to correct deficiencies neglected earlier in the process. Designers are not able, without proper support, to take into account the complex interaction that people of different size and strength may have with the system. Digital human models (DHM) can represent a valid tool to support the design team during the product development process from conception to disposal, by decreasing the development time, reducing the need for physical prototypes, lowering costs, and improving the quality and safety of the products. They are popular in some industrial domains and their use is becoming mandatory for any company in which manual operations are either directly performed or requested from any participant in the product life cycle. In fact, designers have to take into account that the product can be used by human beings, acting either as workers along the production process or as final user, interacting with the product in different ways according to their habits, goals, or needs. This requires (a) the development of products centered on human beings and suitable for the widest range of population characterized by different sizes, genders, ages, culture, preferences, and abilities [1], and (b) the introduction of virtual ergonomics, i.e., an organized set of strategies and tools that the simulation and evaluation of ergonomic aspects since the conceptual design stage. Therefore, DHM tools can enable the designers to address and solve ergonomics and human factors along the whole product life cycle. The chapter refers to this context and considers the use of digital human modeling techniques and virtual ergonomics in the first phases of product development. We first introduce the scientific background related to digital human modeling, including motion capture techniques. Then, we present research activities related to the application of DHM within the product development process, as well as practical examples developed in various industrial contexts performed by the authors. Final considerations about potential and current trends conclude the chapter.

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