This morning we learned that Microsoft’s “smart” bra is not actually a product in development–it’s one experiment in a series that target emotional triggers in men and women’s weight gain. We still think the “smart” bra is one interesting diet plan even though it is not perfect in its current condition. Below is our original article.
Diet plans are great tools to help men and women eat healthier and lose weight, but their biggest flaw is that they don’t always address cravings that lead a follower astray. Now, Microsoft and a research team from the University of Rochester have teamed up to develop a “smart” bra.
What makes this bra “smart”? It features sensors that monitor a woman’s vitals, more specifically her stress symptoms, and reports its findings to the woman’s mobile phone. The bra is interested in stress levels specifically because researchers hypothesize that stress is a prime trigger of emotional eating. How’s that for a new diet plan—the bra’s sensors alert a wearer’s mobile phone when the person is thought to be on the brink of emotional eating.
Does this bra have the staying power to be an effective dieting tool? It’s hard to say because research has so far been limited. In the first published study of findings, researchers tested the bra prototype on four women. Because the sensors run on batteries, researchers noted that the participants had to change battery packs or charge their bras every 4 hours—not too practical for everyday use!
Whether or not Microsoft’s “smart” bra takes off in the diet plan market, it’s an interesting concept whose intent can be tweaked to monitor those with heart problems, general impulse control, and other medical conditions. Research shows that women are more likely to eat despite actual hunger when upset, frustrated or bored, which is why researchers focused on a bra as a means of housing the necessary scanning equipment.
One study participant told University of Rochester researchers “I was eating without being aware of it…I became aware of triggers for emotional eating, and also more aware of the health (or lack thereof) in my diet.” The “smart” bra was not the only tool used to monitor emotional eating; study participants also logged their emotional habits in a mobile application designed to uncover eating triggers and life stressors. Though this was just the first round of testing, it seems as though general health and diet awareness helps women explore their emotions surrounding eating habits.
Do you think Microsoft’s “smart” bra is the practical diet plan of the future? Would you try one yourself? Let us know in the comments.