Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Santa, Can I Get A Hat That Fits?

Via Peter Hall (a design writer and lecturer in Austin, and a rice daddy himself), writing in Metropolis magazine, news that Asian heads are in fact differently-shaped than other heads.

In 1998, Burton Snowboards saw that helmet sales in Japan didn't match sales in the US and Europe. When the designer Roger Ball investigated, Japanese shredders told him "We have a different-shaped head than you!"

Now an assistant professor of design in Hong Kong, Ball created a team in 2004 to research Asian head shapes. This research culminates soon in Size China, the world's first digital database of Chinese head and face shapes.

In a nutshell, from the Metropolis article: Western heads are generally more oval and appear to have the corners "filled out". Earlier research reported here on Rice Daddies indicates Asian heads come equipped with better ear wax.

This research data will lead to better-fitting helmet designs for the Asian market (and eBay). It may be too late for my own shredding days, but here's hoping that our kids' heads are well protected.


daddy in a strange land said...

What about hapa heads?!

Heh. Interesting, as long we don't get into any old fashioned craniometry-type ish. :)

Robyn said...

This is hilarious!!

Anonymous said...

actually, the helmets i wear are all japanese made. *i can definitely tell the difference between helmets made for western shaped heads vs asian shaped heads. (and when you're riding a motorcycle at 85+ mph a good tight fitting helmet is critical.)

PAKA said...

same with sunglasses...only brand that fits me are oakleys (asian fit).

Anonymous said...

I live in Japan, and I think the lack of sales has nothing to do with bad fit. Cycling here is a fast form of walking and a way to transport your shopping and a couple of kids at the same time, not a sport. You can (illegally, but the police don't stop you) ride on the pavement and drivers don't tend to see you as target practice. The only people who use helmets are primary school kids, who are required to, and mormons. Basically people don't think they are either cool or necessary.

Japanese people definitely believe their heads are different from European ones. I regularly get complimented by other mothers on the shape of my hapa son's head. Actually he just never stays still enough to go flat at the back, but that's a whole other story.