Just when it looked like the world had enough “smart” inanimate objects, Microsoft surprises dieters by creating a prototype of a smart bra to assist women with their weight loss goals. Although the new product has only just been created for lab research so far, the strong reactions from the world suggest that perhaps there may be a future for it yet.
The initial thought process behind Microsoft novelty stems from the idea that emotional eating is behind a majority of dieter’s trouble with controlling their eating. The University of Rochester and the University of Southampton in the UK conducted interviews with women focussed on losing weight. Their findings concluded that interventions, or alerts, would help dieters identify what their triggers for binge eating were so that they could better practice self-control.
Researchers were then posed with the conundrum of finding something that could be comfortably worn on a daily basis and also be able to monitor heart rates and emotional responses. Naturally, a bra comes to mind as the best way for researchers to get to a woman’s heart.
While women of the past have stuffed their bras with tissue-paper or exam cheat notes, this bra has padding of a different sort. A gyroscope, accelerometer, electrocardiogram and electro-dermal sensor are all incorporated into the Microsoft invention to create a combined analysis of a woman’s stress levels. That information is then transferred to a phone app where the dieting diva is then warned that food is not actually what she is craving.
Although, surprised dieters excited about the new Microsoft prototype are anxious to try it out, Microsoft warns the public not to expect this product on the market any time soon. Some of the initial quirks that need adjusting include a current battery life of three to four hours. The inconvenience of having to charge a phone once a day can be a nuisance for most people. Microsoft scientists applied this and concluded that needing to charge a bra up to 5 times a day would then not be well received.
A lot of women’s first reactions expressed concerns that this product came out as a bra because Microsoft thought women were more likely to emotionally overeat. The company has been very up front that a bra was only first designed because it already is firmly placed close to the heart where emotional responses could best be recorded. When asked about creating a model for men as well, Microsoft was very much in favour of the idea. The general consensus was that this is just the beginning.
What should actually surprise both men and women is that these bras are just the beginning in a new type of technology that is designed to be sensitive to human emotion and can react accordingly. This could then potentially be applied to a variety of disorders and possibly lead to many more breakthroughs beyond the battle of the bulge.
As dieters anticipate what other surprises might be in store after this new prototype, one thing can be for sure that this will not be the last the world sees of Microsoft innovative thinking.
By Romana Outerbridge