Ergonomics is the science that studies humans’ limitations and capabilities so as to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. As a kind of digital mock-up, digital human models are a very useful tool for proactive ergonomic analysis. Digital human modeling plays an important role in product and workplace design, and thus has always been at the forefront of ergonomics research.
The research area of digital human modeling can be divided into two major classes: cognitive and physical digital human modeling. This study is focusing on the physical aspect. One of the most prevalent uses of digital human modeling is to simulate people of extreme size so as to provide designs that will well accommodate most people. Thus, the availability of anthropometric data from the target population is fundamental to creating digital human models. However, to our knowledge, few anthropometric data have been reported for Singapore’s population. In addition, the physical interaction of people with their surroundings is constant and complex. Thus, predicting human motion has become increasingly important in digital human models as these models attempt to simulate the physical interaction between humans and their environment. However, human motions and postures have not been well modelled in existing digital human models.
To address these problems, two projects are proposed in this study. First, lab experiments will be conducted to collect anthropometric data in order to represent Singapore’s population. Second, lab experiments will be conducted to capture representative human motion data in occupational tasks, and a mathematical model based on artificial neural networks will be developed to simulate human motions under novel working scenarios.
The ultimate aim is to develop an interactive virtual system in which digital humans can look, act, and even think like real humans do. This system is expected to be widely used for proactive ergonomic analysis. This study will focus on investigating some basic but essential digital human modeling techniques, and thus will be the first step on our way toward the ultimate goal.