Microsoft Research is developing a bra that can detect stress, with the hope of preventing emotionally-triggered overeating in women. Once the bra realizes that you’ve just picked up your second cronut because you’re over-stressed, the bra then sends shock waves through your nipples prompting you to drop the cronut and wince in horror. Voila, mission accomplished.
Well no, that’s not how it works.
“It’s mostly women who are emotional overeaters, and it turns out that a bra is perfect for measuring EKG (electrocardiogram),” said Mary Czerwinski, a cognitive psychologist and senior researcher in visualization and interaction at Microsoft. “We tried to do the same thing for men’s underwear but it was too far away (from the heart).”
Sensors in the prototype bra measure a woman’s heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement, and send the data to a smartphone app. These physical symptoms are supposed to indicate mood, which a woman can track to see how her emotional state corresponds with overeating.
The bra is a result of a study called “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating,” authored by researchers from Microsoft Research, the University of Rochester and the University of Southampton. The study set out to develop an intervention before someone reaches for food as a means of emotional support.
The researchers did notice one downfall of the bra. The batteries have a short lifespan.
“Those brave women kept having to run to the bathroom to charge their bra,” Czwerwinski said. “I think an insert in the foot would be good because feet are really sweaty.”