[This story, by Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times staff, is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Dec. 4, 2013.]
There was plenty of media buzz this week about Microsoft developing a smart bra that could help prevent users from overeating.
The only problem is: Microsoft is no longer working on it.
The device that got so much attention was detailed in a research paper, “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating.”
The protoytpe bra detects when women might want to eat because of stress. It has sensors that monitor heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement. The device then sends that data to a synced smartphone app that attempts to stop users from eating by offering suggestions for alternative activities.
The prototype bras were produced as part of research in the relatively new field of affective computing — the development of computing devices that are sensitive to human moods and react accordingly.
The problem with the smart bras was the batteries lasted only four hours. “It was very tedious for participants to wear our prototyped sensing system, as the boards had to be recharged every three to four hours,” said Asta Roseway, senior research designer at Microsoft Research.
Microsoft researchers told Discovery News that they had worked on a version of the device for men — only using underwear instead of a bra. The problem with that was that the monitors were too far away from the heart.