A pound of feathers or a pound of bricks: How clothing can affect the accuracy of MADE.

The clothing you wear when taking an image can impact the accuracy of your measurement. The instructions to “Take the Scan!” suggest a user wear “Athletic, tightly fitting clothes” to get the most accurate results. This description was brief to keep your screen from getting cluttered. With a little more space here, we wanted to explain why clothing is so important.

The image analysis program measures the width of various body parts from head to toe. Anything that increases or decreases the size of a person’s waist, hips, shoulders, arms, etc., will lead to inaccurate results. Why? Just like most other body composition methods, such as underwater weighing, BodPod, or skinfold assessments, the algorithms of MADE are based on a person’s body density. Two people can weigh the same, but the smaller person that takes a smaller volume of space will be more dense than the other.

There is an old adage: “What weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?” Of course, they weigh the same…a pound. However, if we asked which was more dense, the answer would be much different. Even though they both weigh the same, the bricks take up less space and are more dense than a pound of feathers.

Muscle is more dense than fat. One pound of muscle is smaller and takes up less volume than one pound of fat. This is how a person can appear to look smaller without losing weight, by losing fat and adding muscle. Wider body measurements due to loosely fitting clothing will make a person look larger even though their weight has not changed, causing their body density to appear lower and their body fat percentage to appear higher. On the other hand, clothes that are too tight can cause the opposite. Without a change in body weight, excessively compressive clothing may unnaturally “shrink” a person’s body segments. The result will be a fake increase in density.

Users beware: a key assumption of the MADE process is that the width dimensions that are detected in an image by the app are actual measures of the body. This is very important and because of that, a user must wear clothes that are not too baggy or too tight. 

Are clothes even necessary?

Before answering this question, we want to reassure all users that any image either taken directly within the app or uploaded from a smartphone’s camara is not stored by the MADE app. The numbers gathered by the algorithms are used to determine body composition. Once these numbers have been measured, the image is discarded. You should rest assured knowing that unless you share your picture with someone else, you are the only person who sees it. To ensure the most accurate measure, a user is encouraged to take a picture wearing the least amount of clothes possible. However, full nudity is not necessary. What we recommend for women is to wear a sports bra and shorts that are contoured to the skin (e.g., tight exercise shorts or leggings). For men, we recommend wearing only tight-fitting briefs or shorts and no shirt.