Could your bra help you lose weight? Detect cancer? Or ward off a potential attacker?
Researchers are developing "smart bras" that aim to do just those things, with the help of technology including phone applications, Twitter, and GPS.
One such smart bra uses embedded technology that monitors a wearer's mood and communicates with a smartphone app in a bid to reduce emotional overeating.
Two sensors monitor heart and skin activity in order to track emotions such as stress, upset, or boredom -- all typical triggers for overeating. A built-in computer located between the cups then transmits the mood data to the wearer via a smartphone app -- thus warning her to stay away from the cookie jar.
U.S. software giant Microsoft worked with researchers at an American and British university on the project. Why did the researchers use a brassiere? In a paper
published recently, they say the bra was "ideal” because it allowed them to collect electrocardiogram signals near the heart.
"Part of the goal there was to see if there was a way that we could use existing clothing to cover up the sensors," Professor m.c. Schraefel of Britain's University of Southampton tells RFE/RL. "There are already heart rate monitors where women have bras that have those chest straps for the heart rate monitor embedded in them. So we started to look at, 'Well, can we do something similar?'"
For those interested in acquiring the device, however, Microsoft says it has no plans to commercialize a bra with sensors. A spokesperson tells RFE/RL that the bra is part of ongoing research into “the broader topic of affective computing, or designing devices and services that are sensitive to people’s moods and react accordingly.”
Taking on another serious issue, three engineering students in India earlier this year presented their lingerie attachment -- the Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE) -- as a possible solution to “domestic, social, and workplace harassment” in the country.
The students developed their "anti-rape bra" in the wake of a series of high-profile rape cases in India that sparked outrage at home and abroad.
When the device is switched on by the wearer, pressure-sensors and an electrical circuit reportedly deliver up to 82 shocks when unwanted pressure occurs, while authorities and relatives are alerted through a GPS system.
In the United States, meanwhile, a company plans to commercialize a breast cancer early detection device designed to fit a garment similar to a sports bra.
The Reno, Nevada-based First Warning Systems anticipates bringing the technology to market for some $200. It measures changes in cell temperature caused by the blood vessel growth associated with developing tumors.
Another breast cancer-related "smart bra" comes from Greece, where Nestle Fitness and an advertising agency have created a Twitter-connected bra as part of a breast-cancer awareness campaign.
When the clasp is undone, the bra sends a tweet reading: “Don't forget to check your breasts women.”
Greek celebrity Maria Bakodimou said in October she would be wearing the bra for two weeks.
“The Tweeting Bra, the first bra that can actually tweet," she explains in a promotional video. "Each time I unhook it, the bra automatically sends a tweet, reminding women of their breast self-exam. Our mission: to deliver the life-saving message to everyone.”