The use of digital image correlation in the biomechanical area: a review

Marco Palanca, Gianluca Tozzi, Luca Cristofolini

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This paper offers an overview of the potentialities and limitations of digital image correlation (DIC) as a technique for measuring displacements and strain in biomechanical applications. This review is mainly intended for biomechanists who are not yet familiar with DIC. This review includes over 150 papers and covers different dimensional scales, from the microscopic level (tissue level) up to macroscopic one (organ level). As DIC involves a high degree of computation, and of operator-dependent decisions, reliability of displacement and strain measurements by means of DIC cannot be taken for granted. Methodological problems and existing solutions are summarized and compared, whilst open issues are addressed. Topics addressed include: preparation methods for the speckle pattern on different tissues; software settings; systematic and random error associated with DIC measurement. Applications to hard and soft tissues at different dimensional scales are described and analyzed in terms of strengths and limitations. The potentialities and limitations of DIC are highlighted, also in comparison with other experimental techniques (strain gauges, other optical techniques, digital volume correlation) and numerical methods (finite element analysis), where synergies and complementarities are discussed. In order to provide an overview accessible to different scientists working in the field of biomechanics, this paper intentionally does not report details of the algorithms and codes used in the different studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalInternational Biomechanics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • DIC
  • Hard tissue
  • Soft tissue


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