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Biomechanics and the cyberhuman

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The first modern-day studies of the human body's mechanics - biomechanics - were done at Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit, Michigan, in 1939. By the late thirties cars were becoming common and so were accidents. To know how to make cars safer, engineers needed to know what the human body could take. At that time, engineers had detailed information about the mechanics of building materials like steel, wood, concrete, and glass but not the human body. Researchers dropped steel balls on the heads of cadavers to determine the amount of force necessary to crack the human skull. The methods were crude, but the resulting data were extremely useful and long lasting. In 1972, this data formed the basis for the Head Injury Criteria (HIC) adopted by the newly formed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although new information is replacing the HIC, it's still this kind of biomechanical information that engineers use to determine the safety of car designs. More recently, researchers used information on the mechanical properties of the human body to validate finite-element models of the human body. These cyberhumans can give us more information than crash-test dummies about car design safety.

Published in:

Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 6 )