The guys at Microsoft are taking tips from Victoria’s Secret to get to a woman’s heart…and stomach.
Putting artificial intelligence into intimates, Microsoft’s prototype smart bra is boosted with physiological sensors that monitor mood levels to help women curb emotional eating.
This piece of wearable technology comes with a electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor to detect changes in heart rate, as well as skin temperature and movement sensors, all of which when combined will give an indication of the wearer’s stress level and hence predict mood-triggered eating behaviour. Real-time data streamed via bluetooth to a smartphone app then enables the mobile to flash warning messages to help the anxious overeater step away from the fridge and make better diet decisions when she’s at high risk of eating her feelings.
Read More: Emotional Eating – The Right Way
And why lingerie?
“First, we needed a form factor that would be comfortable when worn for long durations,” said scientists in their paper titled “Food and Mood – Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating”. “The bra form factor was ideal because it allowed us to collect (electrocardiogram data) near the heart.”
Research has shown that many people reach for calorie-rich stuff when they’re feeling stressed, discouraged, bored or on edge – the reason it’s called comfort food. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which may encourage the intake of these high-energy, available foods like a sugary donut to fuel the hormone-induced “flight or flight” response.
In this paper by Microsoft, University of Rochester and University of Southampton, women interviewed felt that interventions that alerted them to their emotional states helped them identify triggers for binge eating. And the new smart bra had a fairly impressive performance in the study: It predicted their emerging emotional states with roughly 75 per cent accuracy.
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But more research and refinements would be required before the smart bra – Microsoft’s Secret, anyone? – might become a viable product. For now, the sensor batteries have to be recharged every three to four hours, which limits how long the bra could be worn. Washability and comfort are also among the other everyday challenges that need to be resolved.
Read More: Should You Wear a Bra to Bed?
The boys aren’t left out too. The team actually attempted to develop high-tech underwear for men, but the sensors were, uhm…too far from the heart for an accurate measurement. So perhaps Kramer was onto something…
Read More: Moody about Moobs – How to Eliminate Man Breasts
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*This article has been selected Article of the Month for Dec 2013*