The Bionic Bra: Using electromaterials to sense and modify breast support to enhance active living
Background: Although the most supportive sports bras can control breast motion and associated breast pain, they are frequently deemed uncomfortable to wear and, as a result, many women report exercise bra discomfort. Given that exercise bra discomfort is associated with decreased levels of physical activity, there is a pertinent need to develop innovative solutions to address this problem. Objectives: This research aimed to evaluate the use of electromaterial sensors and artificial muscle technology to create a bra that was capable of detecting increases in breast motion and then responding with increased breast support to enhance active living. Methods: The research involved two phases: (i) evaluating sensors suitable for monitoring and providing feedback on changes in the amplitude and frequency of breast motion, and (ii) evaluating an actuator capable of changing breast support provided by a bra during activity. Results: When assessed in isolation, the developed technologies were capable of sensing breast motion and actuating to provide some additional breast support. Conclusions: The challenge now lies in integrating both technologies into a functional sports bra prototype, and assessing this prototype in a controlled biomechanical analysis to provide a breast support solution that will enable women to enjoy active living in comfort.
Steele, J. R., Gho, S. A., Campbell, T. E., Richardson, C. J., Beirne, S., Spinks, G. M. & Wallace, G. G. (2018). The Bionic Bra: Using electromaterials to sense and modify breast support to enhance active living. Journal Of Rehabilitation And Assistive Technologies Engineering, 5 1-9.