We all expect our bras to work miracles, but can they also monitor our breasts for signs of cancer? First Warning Systems’ high-tech underwire uses a series of sensors to detect subtle variations in the temperature of breast tissue. Because unusual heat patterns can indicate the presence of abnormally growing cells, the company says its bra can identify tumors years ahead of traditional breast-imaging techniques like mammograms or MRIs.
Monitoring your cardiac health will soon be as easy as slipping on a sports bra. Engineers from the University of Arkansas have developed a wireless system that transmits critical patient information—blood pressure, body temperature, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, some neural activity—to a physician, hospital, or the patient herself. The technology works through a series of nanostructured textile sensors, which can be integrated into a bra for women or a vest for men. By communicating with smartphone software, the module is able to compress the data and relay it over a wireless network in real time.
Double Ds that double as gas masks may sound like a joke, but Elena Bodnar’s “Emergency Bra” is no laughing matter, especially if you find yourself in a situation where having a gas mask handy spells the difference between life and death. Worn under clothing like a regular brassiere, the undergarment separates into two masks that can be pulled over the nose and mouth to filter out harmful airborne pollutants, including those released by fire, radiological or biological attacks, explosions, and natural disasters.
Triumph International is accepting used bras in select Japanese stores. Its purpose? To transform the castoffs into boiler and power-generating fuel. The average bra comprises a blend of fabric and wire that’s impossible to tease apart for repurposing. These obstacles make the undergarments so difficult to recycle, in fact, that turning them into refuse-paper-and-plastic fuel—or RPF—is the only viable option. Japan’s RPF Association notes that RPF contains fewer impurities and less water than refuse-derived fuel made from household garbage. Besides releasing very little dioxin when incinerated, RPF also boasts a combustion efficiency comparable with coal.
Leave it to an Italian intimates company to trade one kind of stuffing for another by recycling used bras into soundproof building insulation. In 2010, Intimissimi launched a six-week multimedia campaign to encourage women to drop off their used unmentionables at its stores across Italy. Plus, every customer who brought in a bra received €3 ($4) towards the purchase of a new one—just in case Russian model Irina Shayk’s entreaties to “help save the planet” weren’t convincing enough.
In November 2011, television host Kelly Ripa donned—then partook of—a pair of wine-filled bladders masquerading as a bust-enhancing woman’s brassiere. The female counterpoint to the “Beer Belly,” the “Wine Rack” comes with a feeding tube for siphoning off sips whenever circumstances (Thanksgiving dinner, blind date, PTA meeting) require dressing under the influence. Sobriety and self-worth? So overrated.
It’s not quite the tofu you’d find bobbing in your miso soup, but Xylem Clothing offers a range of panties and bras made from discarded soybean casings. Reclaimed during production of the white stuff, blended with organic cotton, and processed using a closed-loop system that minimizes waste, the material results in a fabric that can be dyed in several colors and fetchingly trimmed with lace.