Up to 12,000 people across the US are to have their body measurements scanned by the latest 3D technology as part of a national sizing survey that will give the apparel industry valuable information about the country's population.

The nationwide survey, which is expected to start in July, will see several giant bodyscanners, like those used in Brooks' Brothers' flagship Manhattan store, taken around the country to scan the measurements of willing participants.

The scheme involves a number of leading US clothing retailers, universities and manufacturers. The giant scanner uses white light and doesn't require any manual tape measurements. It takes only 12 seconds to scan a person and provide a 200,000 data-point digital map of their body.

The data will then be fed into a powerful computer so project chiefs can compile a comprehensive database of people's body sizes that will serve as a valuable tool for the fashion and apparel industry as well as other sectors.

Michael Fralix, executive vice president of North Carolina-based [TC]2 which developed the new scanning technology, said the sizing survey would be similar to recent studies carried out in the UK and mainland Europe.

"A lot of thanks must go the UK as they kind of set the stage for this and we learned a little bit from the work that was done there. We've also learned some things that will help us lower the cost.

"We've already got some major sponsors including Liz Claiborne, JC Penney, VF Corp and Russell Corp. The scan only takes 12 seconds - it actually takes longer to get dressed than it does to take the scan."

He added that he expects the scanner to visit cities including Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and St Louis and said people who volunteer for the scans will be asked about their income and educational backgrounds. They will also receive shopping vouchers.