Our bodies say something about us. People perceive our shape and have names for body shapes like "hourglass" or "pear shaped" [ ]. People also make social judgments based on body shape. To understand this we have developed methods to relate linguistic descriptions to 3D body shape [ ].
Linguistic descriptions of body shape are naturally used by people to convey the physical appearance of people to others. For example, writers aim to create an image of a fictional character in their readers' mind with the sole use of words, and crime witnesses are often asked to verbally describe the appearance of the suspect to a sketch artist. Can we use this same procedure to recreate 3D human body shape? Do we share an understanding of 3D meaning of these shape descriptions? Does our perception of body shapes match the physical dimensions of 3D body shape?
We use crowdsourcing to generate attribute ratings of 3D body shapes corresponding to standard linguistic descriptions of 3D shape (for example, 'big', 'fit', 'feminine' or ' pear shape'). We then learn a linear function relating these ratings to 3D human shape parameters. Given an image of a new body, we again turn to the crowd for ratings of the body shape. The collection of linguistic ratings of a photograph provides remarkably strong constraints on the metric 3D shape. We call the process crowdshaping and show that our Body Talk system produces shapes that are perceptually indistinguishable from bodies created from high-resolution scans and that the metric accuracy is sufficient for many tasks. This makes body “scanning” practical without a scanner, opening up new applications including database search, visualization, and extracting avatars from books.
Our results suggest that we share an understanding of the 3D meaning of these shape attributes and that our perception of body shape does match the physical space. This has provided insight into social biases [ ] and has resulted in new tools for social science.
An on-line application lets people create bodies and visualize how shape and language relate. Visit http://bodytalk.is.tue.mpg.de/