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International Measuring Project May Make Everything From Clothes to Plane Seats More Comfortable

Aired September 21, 2000 - 11:40 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In health news, it is no secret Americans, in general, are getting bigger. Things such as cars and airplane seats, however, are not.

Well, now the experts are trying to get a really accurate idea of our body measurements.

Here's CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why is this man stripping down to his shorts and having nearly every millimeter of his body measured?

Because he wants...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More room on planes. Bigger clothes; clothes that fit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventy-one point one.

COHEN: Phillipe Craibrook (ph), a football player at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a volunteer for an international measuring project. Some of the sponsors: airplane manufacturers such as Boeing, clothing companies like Levi-Strauss and car makers like Ford.

They use old techniques, and new.

KATHLEEN ROBINETTE, U.S. AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB: What you see here are about 10 subjects and the location of their pupils and the spread of the pupils.

COHEN: This 3-D scan, which measures the distance between the eyes will help make better-fitting goggles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, 72 stickers.

COHEN: The stickers show up on the scans and are used to measure point-to-point for inseam sizes or arm lengths. The measurements could help standardize sizes.

SCOTT FLEMING, U.S. AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB: I hear females talk about from one name brand to the next name brand, they may wear a six in one name brand and an eight or a 10 in another name brand.

And that's one of the reasons why it takes so long for women to shop.

COHEN (on camera): They've just finished measuring volunteers in 12 cities in the United States and Canada. Europe comes next.

While they haven't tallied all the numbers yet, they do have certain expectations.

ROBINETTE: The historic data indicated we were getting taller until, it looks like, about the mid-1970s.

Now, I don't think we're still getting taller, but we do seem to be getting fatter.

COHEN (voice-over): They Air Force started this project about 15 years ago, and now NATO has joined in, trying to define better military equipment.

Football player Phillipe Claybrook and millions of consumers want something much simpler. A pair of pants that fit; an airplane seat that is comfortable.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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