Anthropometry is the study and recording of the measurements and physical properties of the human body. Measurements of living human individuals are done so as to understand human variations and come up with optimized products. Understanding these variations will be crucial when designing various technologies, which have a symbiotic relationship with the user in terms of outcome and usability. Anthropometrics plays a vital role in industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics, architecture et cetera.
Anthropometry is two-dimensional; it is divided into static and dynamic anthropometrics.
1. Static anthropometry deals largely with the physical structure of the body. It consists of measurements of the distance of bones between joint centers including some soft tissue measures in contour dimensions (includes the wobbly stuff that covers our bodies - muscle, fat, skin, bulk).
Trivia: A Belgian mathematician while working Napoleon was the first to take static anthropometry measurements. Asked to develop better-fitting uniforms for the troops. He measured chests to get an idea of standard sizes. Source

2. Dynamic anthropometrics centers its measurements on functional distances covered by the body as it performs various activities. Measurements are taken when the body is in motion or engaged in a physical activity. It includes reach, clearance and volumetric data. Reach signifies the extent that limbs can get to while clearance is the space allowed for a certain part of the body or the whole body itself (for example, how many people can walk through a doorway at once).


-Criminology: Anthropometry has deep roots in criminology. It all started when a french doctor Alphonse Bertillon came up with a system of identification whose main concern was the unchanging character of various measurements of the human frame. By surveying his patients, he found out that certain measurements of the adult body remained constant when the individual reached a ceratin age. He therefore made the inference that if every individual's measurements were taken and recorded, it would be quite easy to distinguish them from the next individual. Soon this system of identification was taken up by the police who used it to prevent false imitation of other people and in arresting an individual who had been previously charged. As further progress was made, it was made possible to identify criminals according to their facial characteristics, however the above identification systems were abandoned as the development of fingerprint identification took place. more
-Anthropolgy: For a short period between the 20's and 40's, anthropometry was used to try and compile differences in human races; more narrowly, why some races were inferior to others. This was the work of some American and European anthropologists.more
-Biometrics: In modern times outside of academic research or purpose, it is used to determine what range or size of product needs to be produced by companies or governments. More detailed measurements of the different body parts can also be used to fix identity on a person or define certain attributes unique to a certain individual. It has become so evolved that measurements are no longer taken using the traditional ruler and scale, 3D scanners are now an essential part of anthropometric measurements.

How measurements are taken?

Depending on the purpose of the anthropometric measurement being taken, various instruments can be used, they may include a weighing scale, anthropometer, skinfold calipers, body volume tanks, and bioelectrical impedance analyzers. Similarly, radiographic instruments and x-ray scanners such as dual-energy-ray absorption meters and ultrasound densitometers are used for quantifying cortical bone density, bone mass, subcutaneous fat density, and lean body mass. source
Results are then tabulated into different data sets which are then studied and analyzed before being applied to whatever purpose they were collected for.

250px-Head-Measurer_of_Tremearne_(side_view).jpgTaking head measurements using a "head measurer", circa 1910. (Wikipedia/anthropometry)

3Dlaserscan2.JPG3D scan using laser scanners and computers. (Hartford Uni)