December 4, 2013
Microsoft Smart Bra Could Help Curb Stress-Related Eating
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Microsoft has put an intimate new spin on the wearable electronics phenomenon by developing a bra capable of detecting when women are eating as a result of stress, various media outlets are reporting.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant’s device will monitor the heart rate, respiration, galvanic skin response and movement of the person wearing it, and then transmit that data to a synced smartphone app that will help the wearer in the attempt to prevent stress eating.
The smart bra, which is detailed in a new research paper entitled “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating,” began as an attempt to determine whether or not wearable technology could be used to combat overeating associated with mood, BBC News reported.
“It’s mostly women who are emotional overeaters, and it turns out that a bra is perfect for measuring EKG (electrocardiogram). We tried to do the same thing for men's underwear but it was too far away (from the heart),” said Mary Czerwinski, a cognitive psychologist and senior researcher in visualization and interaction at Microsoft.
The female subjects participating in the study were asked to remove and recharge the undergarments every three-to-four hours – a “tedious process,” the study authors told Mashable. The bra features sensor pads containing a microprocessor that is powered by a 3.7-volt battery and can sample eight bio-signal channels simultaneously.
The bra was able to detect emerging emotional states approximately three out of every four times, with the women reporting their moods on an hourly basis in smartphone journal apps, Taylor said. However, the researchers have yet to test whether or not an app designed to serve as an “appropriately timed, personalized intervention” will actually be effective in curbing mood-related food consumption.
“Wearable technology is increasingly being used to monitor a range of health conditions. Last month saw the release of a Twitter-connected bra, that tweeted every time it was unhooked to encourage women to self-examine their breasts,” BBC News added. “And last year a patent was awarded to a US firm that was working on a wearable device that analyzed breast heat in order to detect cancer.”