If all else has failed – willpower, smaller serving sizes, hiding the half-eaten bag of cookies – women might soon be able to wear a bra that spares them from emotional bouts of overeating.
Gizmodo reports that The University of Rochester has collaborated with a team from Microsoft's visualization and interaction research group to consider the most effective way to intervene when overeating is most likely to occur.
Of the three comprehensive studies analyzing this specific approach to behaviour modification, it is the final program that proposes a wearable sensor system comprised of a small EKG (electrocardiogram), which can relay messages to a mobile app.
A bra's close proximity to the heart makes it the ideal garment for providing accurate EKG readings. The researchers also note that a bra can be worn comfortably and discreetly over long periods. They secured and enclosed the sensor between the two cups in front of the sternum. Four women from the lab were monitored for 4-6 hours each day over four days.
While the EKG measured the women's heart rates, the women were also instructed to self-report their feelings using the mobile app EmoTree – a name lacking any edible connotations. Messages on their smart phones might encourage them to count slowly and breathe (versus a harsher alert to drop the spoon).
By the end of the experiment, the researchers concluded "that building a wearable, physiological system is feasible" and that they "will continue to explore how to build a robust, real-world system that stands up to every day challenges with regards to battery life, comfortability, and being suitable for both men and women."
Indeed, the biggest downside according to the report was that the boards required a recharge every 3-4 hours, "which resulted in participants having to finagle with their wardrobe throughout the day."
But for many women, a little extra wardrobe fussing would be a welcome tradeoff if it meant eliminating the regret and unwanted kilos that result from eating a tub of ice cream.
In its coverage of the bra, the BBC points out recent examples of technologically advanced undergarments. The prototypes all have the potential to render your ordinary push-up obsolete.
The age of Big Bra-ther is nigh.