Nicola D’Apuzzo is not your typical engineer. Though he obtained his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, D’Apuzzo has always been interested in the human body, particularly when it comes to taking its measurements. For over fifteen years, the engineer has been a leading specialist in 3D body scanning technology, lending his expertise to companies and research institutions in a variety of industries.
“I was studying mechanical engineering, but I was not interested in the machines,” D’Apuzzo says. “And so I went into this (biomedical engineering and robotics) specialisation to try to work with the human body.”
While serving as a Research Assistant at ETH Zurich’s Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, D’Apuzzo completed his PhD on 4D Human Body Scanning. In 2002, he was invited to Japan by Topcon Corporation to further his research on 3D measurement and image processing. D’Apuzzo then went on to establish his own technical firm Hometrica Consulting and launched 3DBody.Tech — the International Conference and Exhibition on 3D Body Scanning and Processing Technologies.
“I started doing practical research on how to better use the equipment, not only on the application of 3D body scanning but also how to process the data.”
Lending a hand
Having recently acquired the most sophisticated 3D body scanning machine available (Temporal 3dMDbody.t System), Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) enlisted D’Apuzzo’s help as a Design United Research Fellow. The engineer shares his knowledge and experience with students and faculty members in order to maximize the machine’s use and advance its research possibilities. Moreover, he assists in making the university’s 3D body scan and anthropomorphic measurement databases more manageable for designers.
“It’s one of the best machines on the market and it’s used in different fields from medical applications, fashion, sports, and special effects,” D’Apuzzo claims. “I started doing practical research on how to better use the equipment, not only on the application of 3D body scanning but also how to process the data.”
At the same time, D’Apuzzo hopes to increase collaboration within the Industrial Design Engineering Faculty and with other universities in the Netherlands and abroad. Speaking from experience, the engineer recognises the potential for growth in 3D body scanning research and its applications in a diverse range of fields.
“Design is already a science where you have to collaborate with different sectors,” D’Apuzzo explains, “to listen to what the needs are and then try to make the best solution. Research is very important because there is still a lot of things to be done and it’s not just focused on commercial outcomes.”
Access for all
Considering that 3D scanning is increasingly being integrated into mobile and gaming devices, D’Apuzzo sees the rapid democratisation of 3D scanning technologies. The development of these 3D scanners will be split in two: low-cost consumer devices like the Microsoft Kinect and high quality, professional scanners such as the 3dMD systems.
“With the machine you have at TU Delft, you can acquire very precise, high-resolution scans all with very fast results,” D’Apuzzo says. “Now, the technology is accessible to everybody. What will happen in the next five years is that there will be a lot of new applications for the consumer. And everything will change very fast because the technology is here.”
Personal profile of Nicola D’Apuzzo
Research Fellow 2017
Maximising the potential for research in 3D Body Scanning Technology