A measurement for life

Technology from BST could save more children


A single image can tell us a lot about a child.

Like: Her height. Or the size of his head, arm and leg.

That’s what new 3D imaging technology from BST provides – clear measurements of an infant or child during crucial stages of development. All in a single scan.

And this would be important because … why?
Around the world, millions of children aren’t growing and developing as they should. They lack nutrition, either directly or through their mother. But their impaired growth could be stopped through reliable measurement and follow-up aid.

This kind of measurement has a name: Anthropometry
And it has tools – tape and a portable wooden measuring board. Both have been around since ancient times.

The problems therein
The portable board weighs about 10 pounds. It’s a bit cumbersome to haul around, especially in rural areas. And using the instruments incorrectly brings bad data, potentially affecting whether aid will come.

One click. Problems solved
BST’s technology – called AutoAnthro – captures an image using a 3D camera and tablet or smart phone. It automatically calculates the child’s measurements and saves all of the information in the cloud.

That name rings a bell
You might’ve heard about BST before. The GRA-supported company was launched in 2007 using similar technology (developed by UGA and Georgia Tech) to weigh pigs. (For now, they’ve parked that market to focus on child health.)

The pivot from pigs
In 2014, BST founder and CEO Gregg BeVier got an email from a program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Asking: Would your technology work on measuring children? His answer: “We should explore it.”

What exploration looks like
Emory University researchers measured several hundred kids in Atlanta, age 5 and younger. They used both AutoAnthro and traditional tools, comparing the two. Result: AutoAnthro’s 3D images were within a few millimeters of customary tools.

Tomorrow, the world
Gregg BeVier: “The people at the Gates Foundation were very excited about our technology. So they provided grants totaling $2.6 million for the proof of concept and to further develop and test AutoAnthro. They’ve also made a $780,000 grant to the CDC Foundation to evaluate the technology in Central America and Africa.”

Stunting is serious – and widespread
An astounding 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 in the world has impaired growth, known as “stunting,” according to UNICEF. In addition to poor nutrition, stunting is caused by repeated infections and inadequate stimulation of the mind and/or body.

Stunting is also a life sentence
Stunted growth experienced between conception and age 2 brings long-term consequences – physically, emotionally and intellectually.

Hold still (but only a little)
One big advantage to BST’s AutoAnthro technology: The baby or child does not need to be perfectly still for the device to get an accurate measurement.

Planning for post-evaluation
Already, BST is developing improvements to AutoAnthro. They’re adding languages for instruction and use, adapting it for the more affordable Android operating systems and “ruggedizing” the equipment to withstand sometimes harsh conditions.

Georgia in the limelight
AutoAnthro took center stage at the Gates Foundation’s 2018 “Goalkeepers” conference. CDC’s Maria Jefferds provided an overview and talked about the implications, and the CDC Foundation’s Karim Bougma demonstrated it. Watch >