The Inside-Out MRI

Some years ago I was in a car accident; nothing too severe. The doctors at first told me that my back problems were a result of muscular damage and that with some physical therapy I’d be fine. They were wrong. About a year after the accident, while still going through therapy, pressure was applied directly to a spot on my vertebrae and I went through the roof. That ended my physical therapy and sent me back to the doctor who then recommended I get an MRI.

Being naturally curious I decided to research the device, and learned that what that big cylinder of magnets is doing is turning a person’s body into a kind of radio station. If I remember correctly, the magnets are sufficiently powerful to momentarily affect the electrons ; to pull them to one side. When the magnetic field is turned off, those electrons jump back into position, and in doing so, give off measurable energy. The body as transmission device. The bed on which a patient is lying is an antenna that picks up those energy transmissions; just like a tuner.

Or something like that.

That came to mind while reading a piece over on Wired (Link) about something I’d recently mentioned (reLink): body scanners. I’ve known of them for some time. What I didn’t know what that there were devices that made the experience much less invasive. They sound like inverse MRI machines, only the body isn’t a receiver but a reflector. From the article:

Another scanner, Intellifit, has a 7-by-8-foot chamber, and uses radio waves to scan a person’s fully clothed body in 10 seconds. The radio waves bounce off water just under the person’s skin, much like a Dopplar radar that detects atmospheric moisture, according to Intellfit co-founder and CTO Albert Charpentier.

Intellifit installed its first scanners in Lane Bryant stores in April 2005. To date, more than 11,000 Lane Bryant customers have been scanned, providing information the retailer can use to do a better job of sizing clothes, as well as measurements that help customers shop. The scanner was tested at mall locations across the country last year. It’s also found in outlets that include Levi’s, Gap and American Eagle Outfitters.

“There’s no doubt that these scanners will become a part of the shopping experience,” said Fabulous Fit author Judith Rasband, founder and CEO of Conselle Institute of Image Management. “It’s a matter of how long it will take for retail owners to become acquainted with the technology and its application.”

Pretty cool. I wonder if the fashion industry is ready for this and for the inevitable push toward levels of customization not seen in a very long time. Last I researched – maybe five years ago – they were woefully behind the curve. Maybe I’ll find time to get updated. Just after I figure out how to get my body to transmit 16Volt.