Microsoft & University of Rochester Researchers Develop Bra to Alert Wearer of Overeating Due to Emotional Stress


Researchers in a collaborative study between The Microsoft Research Institute and the University of Rochester examined the phenomenon of overeating due to emotional stress and have developed a bra that used stand-alone sensors to read respiration and skin conduction during such events. The sensors then sent the information to a smartphone app that analyzed the information and alerted the person that she may be overeating due to emotional stress and offered just-in-time support to curb both the emotion and the eating.

In Study 1 and 2, we explored emotional eating patterns and investigated the feasibility and benefits of developing an elaborate, integrated system, as described in the scenario. We found some initial results that suggested providing awareness and just-in-time support for emotional eating could work with
better personalization on timing and intervention. To move towards the goal of a personalized, integrated system, this study was focused on investigating the feasibility of using physiological sensors to implicitly detect emotions. While implicit emotion detection has been done in the past, this is the first study, that we are aware of, that makes use of wearable, mobile sensors for detecting emotions.

While the study provokes a great deal of promise on the use of wearable devices to assist with emotional stress eating, there are still a few chinks in the armor.

Participants wore the bra sensing system and reported their emotions for about 4-6 hours a day over a period of approximately four days. It was very tedious for participants to wear our prototyped sensing system, as the boards had to be recharged every 3-4 hours, which resulted in participants
having to finagle with their wardrobe throughout the day.

image via “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating” Study

via BBC News