From keeping you fit to detecting cancer, finding true love and beyond, there’s an app for that. Sorry, by app, we actually mean a bra…
The Keep Beat smart bra was designed by Victoria Sowerby, a London-based fashion designer specialising in contemporary print with what she describes as “more than a pinch of humour”. Although this bra doesn’t exist yet, Sowerby, a recent graduate of Northumbria University, designed a prototype that encourages you to run at pace by altering the speed of the music you are listening to while you exercise. Using electrodes hidden in the elastic to measure your pulse rate as you run, the data is then transferred via a transmitter with a Bluetooth chip, which in turn ‘tweaks’ the speed of the music on your smartphone via a special app. Essentially, if you run too slowly, then your running soundtrack will s-l-o-w d-o-w-n to an uncomfortable speed. Similarly, if you are running too quickly, the music will speed up to irritating Mickey Mouse proportions.
Sowerby also made use of a fabric named ‘Eurojersey’, which, according to Wareable “accelerates the evaporative process so it’s thermo regulating and won’t trap sweat or bacteria.” That aside, it has to be said that if running is your idea of torture, the Keep Beat bra is unlikely to encourage you to take it up!
Photo credit: Victoria Sowerby
Another smart bra that’s being developed in laboratories is the excitingly-named Bionic bra. Also a work in progress, the Bionic Bra has been 15 years in the making for scientists at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Their aim is to produce an incredibly comfortable sports bra that responds to the different movements of the body and adapts to give more support during vigorous exercise, and less support when the body is still. This is achieved by tightening and loosening the fibres within the fabric, the idea being to prevent long-term damage to breast ligaments for female sports enthusiasts. Although it may seem like science fiction, in the event this bra is actually released it could revolutionise the sports bra industry and inspire women who have previously shied away from exercise due to their uncomfortable sports bras to get back into fitness.
Startup business, Cyrcadia Health, has invented the world’s first disease-detecting bra – and they’re claiming it’s ‘better than a mammogram’. A series of temperature sensors together with an algorithm and an app are embedded in a bra, with the aim of detecting breast cancer by analyzing the density of the breast tissue and identifying the tiniest circadian temperature changes within breast cells. The company claims, “Our iTBra technology was successfully tested with over 500 patients. Cyrcadia Health solution demonstrated an 87% correlation to a verified, clinical diagnosis of breast cancer including with those patients with dense breast tissue…Wearing the iTBra for 12 hours is a comfortable way to have a highly accurate monthly self-breast exam.”
Sounds too good to be true? Indeed, health professionals remain sceptical, as Elaine Schattner, an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College told Smithsonian, “The iTBra is essentially an untested, commercial device that may tempt some women who don’t want to go through the hassle and alleged risks of mammography…Women who wish to be screened for breast cancer would be wiser, instead, to go with a proven method.” The product is still being trialled.
Still on the topic of cancer, the Foxleaf bra is an innovative design that actually delivers treatment drugs – namely Tamoxifen gel – to the patient via the bra itself. Profiled recently on the Breakthrough Breast Cancer website, the bra contains “micro-encapsulated bubbles of Tamoxifen in soft, plastic inserts in the cups”. Heat and moisture is supposed to rub the coating off the bubbles and release the Tamoxifen to be absorbed through the skin as opposed to the patient taking the drug in tablet form. The aim of this is to reduce the side effects commonly associated with oral treatment.
As with other bras listed in this article, the Foxleaf bra is still in production, with the designer, Masters student Sarah da Costa, who is ready to begin pre-clinical trials with the University of Westminster, estimating an approximate four-year delivery to market.
And finally, for the hopefully optimistic among us, the Truelove bra offers the first underwear to concentrate on the wearer’s feelings. Dubbed by The Guardian as a “chastity bra that only opens when you find true love”, this latest Japanese lingerie treat by Ravijour uses a sensor built into the bra to monitor the wearer’s heart rate. This is transmitted to a – you guessed it – smartphone app for analysis, via Bluetooth. The app then works tirelessly to calculate the ‘True Love Rate’ based on the data provided, and only when it meets a target value does it allow the hook to open and the intimacy to begin. Ahem.
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