Welcome to:


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  • Human anatomy is essential knowledge for product designers​. Use the content on this site to learn about the body.

  • Use the anatomy research-based designs on this site to inspire your work.​

  • Anatomy readings can add to your knowledge—a few resources:​

    • Grey's Anatomy​

    • Atlas of Human Anatomy by Tillmann​

    • Human Anatomy by McKinley & O’Loughlin​

    • The Anatomy Coloring Book by Kapit & Elson​

    • Clinically Oriented Anatomy by Moore, Dalley & Agur​

  • Two books integrate anatomy and product design:

    • Human Body: A wearable product designer's guide by LaBat & Ryan. Illustrations from the book are used for this web site.

    • Functional Clothing Design by Watkins and Dunne

Skeletal System

Bones, tendons & ligaments interact to support & protect the body.

Considerations for Designers:​

  • 206 bones form the adult skeleton.​

    • Name the bones your product encompasses​

  • The skeleton is the support frame for shaping & sizing a product.​

    • How is your product supported?​

  • The skeleton is stable, yet moveable.​

    • Will your product stabilize, allow or restrict movement?​

  • A ”joint”—where 2 or more bones make contact—allows body motion.​

    • Will your product facilitate or impede joint motion?​

  • Skeletal forms are the same person-to-person, with wide variations in size & how bones are linked or “stacked.”​

    • What is the skeletal “size range” & postures of your intended user?​


  • 33 bones (vertebrae) of the spine provide mid-body structure & allow motion.​

    • Will your product stabilize the torso—or allow torso twisting and bending?

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Muscular System

Muscle cells, tendons, and other connective tissues act to move skeletal structures.

Designer Considerations:​

  • Muscles overlay & integrate with bones.​

    • Name the muscles (tendons & ligaments) your product encompasses.​

  • Muscles contribute to body form.​

    • Will muscles underlying your product change shape & size?​

  • Muscles move bones to change body position through: ​

    • abduction to move a body part away from the body midline (think “abdicate from”).​

    • adduction to move a body part toward the body midline (think “add to”).​

    • Does your product allow Abduction? Adduction? To what extent?

  • Walking requires integrated muscle activity in the torso, legs, & arms.​

    • How do muscles underlying your product work together?

Nervous System

Central Nervous System (CNS) & Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) direct & coordinate other body systems: ​

  • CNS: brain, brainstem, & spinal cord.​

    • Body “central control”​

    • Will your product interact with these essential body components?

  • PNS: Spinal nerves, spinal ganglia, plexuses, peripheral motor & sensory nerves, sensory receptors, & motor (autonomic) nerves.​

    • Carries messages throughout the body​

    • Name the major nerve networks your  product encompasses.

Designer Considerations:​

  • Wearable products can protect parts of the nervous system.​

    • Example: carpal tunnel splint preventing wrist nerve compression​

    • Test your product for exemplary (not just sufficient) protection.​

  • Wearable products can damage parts of the nervous system.​

    • Example: heavy backpack compressing nerves of the shoulder​

    • Test your product—avoid nerve impedance or damage. 

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Layers of skin & other cells—hair & sweat glands—of the body surface​

  • Skin is the largest organ of the body.​

  • Skin structures  provide protection, temperature regulation, & a  sensory circuit​

Designer Considerations:​

  • Skin protects the body: it’s water-proof, keeps the body from drying out, & is the surface where sweat evaporates to cool the body.​

    • Will your product inhibit or facilitate sweat evaporative cooling?

  • Skin collects sensations from the body surface.​

    • Will your product (materials &/or structure) irritate the skin surface?​

  • Skin manufactures vitamin D—a process triggered by UVB rays in sunlight. Sunlight can also damage skin cells causing cancer.​

    • Should your product shield the skin from sun damage?

  • Hair emerges from follicles of the skin. Depending on density, a covering of hair can shield the body from sun and/or insulate the body.​

    • Can a product simulate or replace these functions?​​

Continue on to the following chapters:


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