Weird But True: Microsoft Is Developing a Stress-Monitoring Bra
Women who are concerned about stress-induced overeating already have a lot of reasons to stress out, and now they have to another thing to worry about: their undergarments tattling on their moods.
Or, maybe it's a good thing.
Researchers at Microsoft have developed a bra that they claim helps to regulate stress eating by monitoring the wearer's vital signs and moods. The goal of the high-tech underwear is to help reduce stress eating by making the woman wearing it more aware of when she is anxious and likely to overindulge in an effort to make herself feel better.
The high-tech bra uses sensor pads with battery-powered microprocessors that sample up to eight bio-signal channels simultaneously, gathering information such as heart rate and respiration, skin conductance and movement, according to a report from Discovery. The pads use EKG sensors, electrodermal activity sensors, accelerometers, and gyroscopes to gather data, which is then streamed to a smartphone app and the researchers' computer.
The test subjects recorded their own moods on the smartphone app, and the scientists used that data, along with the data collected from the bra-sensors, to predict physiological changes that accompany eating and stress.
Mary Czerwinski, a cognitive psychologist and senior researcher in visualization and interaction at Microsoft, presented her findings at the Society for Affective Computing's recent conference, in a paper titled "Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating."
"It's mostly women who are emotional overeaters, and it turns out that a bra is perfect for measuring EKG (electrocardiogram)," she said. "We tried to do the same thing for men's underwear but it was too far away (from the heart)."
The other problem the researchers encountered was that the sensors' batteries only lasted about four hours before needing to be recharged. Czerwinski's next focus will be to find another part of the body that can be used to monitor moods with similar physiological accuracy, but requiring less work.
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