Health | Technology

Microsoft Not Developing A Bra To Stop Overeating, After All

NPR | Dec. 11, 2013 10:14 a.m.

Contributed By:

Elise Hu

Researchers developed a prototype for a bra sensing system that would read users emotions, but Microsoft says it won't be developing this product.

Researchers developed a prototype for a bra sensing system that would read users emotions, but Microsoft says it won't be developing this product.

Courtesy of Microsoft Research

The new reality with the light-speed pace of online news sharing is that news doesn’t have to be true for it to go super-viral. Sometimes stories are too good to verify, too fun not to share. The New York Times delved into this with a much-tweeted piece this morning.

So it is not altogether surprising, but still a little disappointing, to learn that Microsoft won’t be developing a smart bra to stop us from overeating, after all. It was just a few days ago when the ladies of the world were rejoicing to learn that researchers at Microsoft were developing a smart bra that alerts women to their stress levels so they could avoid “emotional overeating.”

The BBC reported of its blueprint, which “contains removable sensors that monitor heart and skin activity to provide an indication of mood.” The bra (hypothetically) would take your EKG and feed it to a smartphone app. The app would then advise whether to avoid the refrigerator based on your stress levels.

Your tech bloggers were fascinated by this and reached out to the researchers who created a prototype and wrote a paper on the possibilities of this wearable technology.

But instead of getting an interview, we heard from a Microsoft spokesman who did not want to be identified, saying there have been “inaccuracies reported in multiple media outlets,” and he’s correcting the record with this note:

The bra sensing system is just one instance of a class of work from a group of Microsoft researchers who are focused on the broader topic of affective computing, or designing devices and services that are sensitive to people’s moods and react accordingly. While we will continue our research in affective computing, Microsoft has no plans to develop a bra with sensors.”

Bummer on the bra, and a bigger bummer for the veracity of sharable online news. But not all hope is lost for wearable tech in bras — the breast cancer detection bra is still out there, at least according to CBS News. And the Microsoft research does continue.

And the researchers who created the smart bra prototype noted that they were moving from sensor bras to sensor bracelets so that men, too, could potentially get alerts to stop them from emotional eating.

NPR’s Emily Siner contributed to this post.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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