Face models

Hi kids,

Anyone like to help out a stressed designer?

I am trying to source some surface data of human faces for a medical product. I have contacted every reputable university and most medical research institutions with little success.

Could someone suggest a location at all? I know sunglass designers would have sources, I will find it but if we want to cure Glaucoma a little earlier I could do with some advice.


how do you even DO this? theres so many different faces. diff noses. eye widths. ear placements. aso. what surface data could you hope to get?

If your product needs this data you (or your client) needs to be willing to go out and get it (and bill for it of course.)

I’m sure you could outsource a firm to recruit a few hundered people to 3D scan and then composite. Best place to go is probably some hollywood motion-capture outfit that’s used to doing face-scans. Recruit people via research firms that have people in their database and filter on race, sex and height. Those three characteristics might help you target sample sizes for the 5%, 50% and 95% anthropometric profiles you probably need.

If you’re looking for an average composite you want what the shoe industry calls a “last.” (They have a last for every shoe size…you may wish to do something similar.)

While at Insight I worked with Gerald Skulley at Plantronics. Here’s what they did:


SANTA CRUZ — One of the best kept secrets at Plantronics Inc., the world’s largest headset maker, is its scientifically amassed collection of silicon cast ear models, many of which are displayed on the company’s venerated Wall of Ears in a small back room at company headquarters.

The 56 life-size casts are a small piece of the company’s tightly held intellectual property about ear size and shape. It is knowledge about “the human factor” that makes the headsets comfortable to the vastly divergent ears that abound.

There are very big ears and not so big ears, the kind that stick out like tea cups and others that have almost no lobe at all. On the back of each cast is the name of the employee who wears that particular ear and can personally test the comfort and efficacy of technology of the latest headset.

“No two ears are alike,” said Michael Tighe, a company spokesman. “As our products have become more sophisticated especially with wireless technology, the way we create it becomes more important.”

The study grew out of the need for more information about the exterior of the ear to get headset speakers in the right place. Headset developers who had plenty of information about the human auditory system, needed more information about how to create headsets that featured clip-on or wrap-around-the-ear loop rather than a traditional headband.

The company wanted to know more about ear diversity. In the mid-90s, Plantronics commissioned the University of Virginia to cast about 900 ears.

“The commitment was enormous money-wise when it was done,” said Gerald Skulley, director of industrial design and human factors. “This was a monumental task.”

The study incorporated male and female ears, ears of the young and old and different ethnicities. It turns out Asian ears are much like African American or those of Northern European descent, Skulley said. They measured ear attributes such as the cavum or ear canal, the apex where the ear joins the head and the lobe. The study found that left ears and right ears don’t necessarily match.

Th company has cast about 1,500 ears.

Skulley is in charge of maintaining a current, diverse set of available ears for testing new products.

“We design for the extremes,” Skulley said, “for the biggest ear and for the smallest ear.”

i dont know medical products. can the data used for sunglasses be used for a medical device? seems like they would want more accuracy. way more accuracy. bad assumption?