Dec 062013

tweet alerting me to the Microsoft bra, with an image from the articleCross-posted from The Spiral Dance

Earlier this week, Twitter user @s_hardey tweeted at me that Microsoft is working on a high-tech bra. The tweet came on a Tuesday, which is my busiest teaching day. Before I got a chance to check it out, it got buried in my mentions.

But today…today is an unexpected work-at-home day thanks to winter storm Cleon. So when I saw this PolicyMic article in my Tweet stream, it reminded me that I had never followed up on Sarah’s tweet and gave me the chance to check it out.

Microsoft Has Invented a Bra That Discourages Women From “Emotional Eating” – PolicyMic.

Nina Ippolito is responding to a research team’s project that used a phone app to track the relationship between women’s emotions and eating habits and then tried to use the app to intervene before emotional eating could occur. The intervention came in the form of a message that suggested deep breathing exercises. The third stage of the project developed a prototype bra that tracked the emotional state of the wearer based on vital signs. The data gathered by the bra did not result in an intervention. Instead, the purpose was to see how well the vital signs aligned with emotional state. The paper does not seem to indicate how the bra might eventually be connected to a strategy of intervention. Would it buzz? Shock? Connect to the wearer’s phone and the app? It’s unclear.

Ippolito’s critique of the Emotional Eating bra raises many interesting questions. Like Ippolito, I find myself hesitant about the researchers’ choice of which women’s health problem to solve. I suspect that emotional overeating is a problem for which the researchers felt that their wearable device presents a plausible solution. However, the device has problematic potential for policing women’s emotions and bodies in a culture that is already quite adept at doing so.

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Apr 102012
Ladies Undewear Options on

Ladies Undewear Options on

Remember when lingerie shopping involved actually browsing a bricks-and-morter boutique and blushing under the judgemental gaze of snooty sales clerks? Well it seems that the lingerie boutique may be about to face the same tragic fate as the dinosaur. That is if the new underwear-on-demand company Me Undies  has anything to say about it.

Me Undies has turned the traditional lingerie business model on its lacy head by forgoing the traditional boutique, and even the traditional retail outlet, and offering customers two very unique ways to shop for undies. The first is a sort of “skivvy of the month” subscription service wherby customers, both male and female, can have a curated selection of undies delivered straight to their door on a monthly autoship. Customers set up an account on and input their unique underwear preferences by completing an online questionnaire. Their preferences are then saved for them in their own unique online underwear “drawer.” The signup process kind of reminds me of a social network except that it’s for…well…an underwear subscription.

The second, and I think most fascinating, method of skivvy acquisition that MeUndies proposes, however, is the the company’s national network of…wait for it…underwear vending machines! That’s right, you can now purchase your unmentionables out of a vending machine. The company has plans to place their underwear vending machines in hotels, fitness centers and airports nationwide, so that their customers can purchase the underwear of their choosing, at literally any hour, while enjoying greatly discounted prices – no salesperson required.  You know, for all of those unexpected underwear emergencies we all find ourselves in. Touting their product as  “the world’s most comfortable underwear,” the company’s founders say that they aim for Me Undies to be a true e-commerce retailer and minimize it’s cost structure by operating online and via vending machine. Those savings, reportedly about 30% less than comparable designer undergarments, are then passed on to the consumer.

The retail lingerie sector has been long overdue for some innovation, and I certainly think Me Undies has a very unique business model. However, I don’t know that I’m quite ready to queue up to purchase my unmentionables out of an airport vending machine. What do you think? Could this perhaps be the start of a new trend in automated underwear? For some reason I’m hearing The Jetson’s theme song in my head right now.