Anthropometrics is the comparative study of human body measurements and properties. Ergonomics is the science of making the work environment safer and more comfortable for workers using design and anthropometric data. The expression human factors is a North American term which has been adopted to emphasise the application of the same methods to non work-related situations. A “human factor” is a physical or cognitive property of an individual or social behavior specific to humans that may influence the functioning of technological systems. The terms “human factors” and “ergonomics” are essentially synonymous.
Anthropometry (Greek anthropos ( “man”) and metron ( “measure”) therefore “measurement of man”) refers to the measurement of the human individual. An early tool of physical anthropology, it has been used for identification, for the purposes of understanding human physical variation, in paleoanthropology and in various attempts to correlate physical with racial and psychological traits.
Today, anthropometry plays an important role in industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics and architecture where statistical data about the distribution of body dimensions in the population are used to optimize products. Changes in life styles, nutrition and ethnic composition of populations lead to changes in the distribution of body dimensions (e.g. the obesity epidemic), and require regular updating of anthropometric data collections.
Human Factors Engineering
Several international standards, treat the terms ergonomics and human factors as synonyms.
Human Scale egenomics