Bras have one job to do and a worthy job at that, but with smart clothing set to explode by 2016, everyone from Victoria's Secret to university boffins are pushing the boundaries of what the humble bra can do.
Take the Bionic Bra. It's a project out of the University of Wollongong in Australia and unlike many new wearable prototypes, it solves a real, everyday problem: how women work out.
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The Bionic Bra is effectively killing the idea of a sports bra. It's a responsive bit of smart clothing that tracks the amount and speed of your body's movement and adjusts the fit accordingly. The aim is for the final product to be comfortable enough to wear everyday and supportive enough to wear when running or at the gym.
It works using customised graphene fibers, developed by wet spinning techniques, which are knitted into a wearable structure to form the bra - this is how movement is monitored. Then 'artificial muscles' (currently located on the back but likely to move) use this data to tighten up and contract the whole bra to provide more support. This integrated tech is also based on next-gen fibers which are made from coiled fishing line.
The UOW team, lead by Professor Julie Steele, Director of Breast Research Australia, are now prototyping more 'wearable' designs for the Bionic Bra. Some of the components are 3D printed which is speeding up the process but one final hurdle is that not all the hardware is currently washable.
The idea of a hi-tech bra might sound a bit silly but there's a lot at stake if women get it wrong - neck and back pain, numbness in the fingers from compressed nerves and headaches according to the researchers.
We'll keep an eye on developments as the Bionic Bra makes its way from prototype to final product. Bloomingdales, here it comes.
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