So here’s something to get the pulse racing. And that’s all there is to it. Sorry if it means absolutely nothing. Despite a tidal wave of news coverage, the only newsworthy element here is that the manufacturers of this so-called “smart bra” have succeeded in getting a Press Release to go viral. And as is increasingly the case, they’ve done so via the Science News pages.
I mean, really:
[Japanese lingerie brand] Ravijour has engineered a concept bra that only undoes when ‘true love’ is detected using a built-in heart monitor and works with a smartphone app…An app seemingly processes the data – measuring heart rate elevation using a specially built algorithm as well as pre-set data – and only when a woman’s heart rate is suitably elevated and she is in love does the bra catch open.
And what if the wearer’s heart rate elevates for some other reason, such as excitement, happiness, sadness, wonderment, running for the bus, climbing the stairs, standing up, sitting down, breathing, holding one’s breath, smoking, drinking, eating, looking at something interesting, feeling frustrated, being stuck in traffic, cycling a bike, laughing at a cat, smelling dirty laundry, falling off a wall, sneezing, being annoyed at reading stupid newspaper articles, or any other activity that elevates heart rate?
Well, they’ve an excuse for that:
…the creators of the bra say that the catch will only be released when a woman is in love so that her Adrenal Medulla (part of the adrenal gland) secretes the hormone Catecholamine, which increases her heart rate.
Aha! So now they’re claiming (a) that catecholamine levels indicate true love and (b) that the magic bra (sorry, smart bra) will measure catecholamine levels. Sorry but. That’s not right at all.
Catecholamines are stress hormones and are produced when a person experiences physical or emotional distress. If you want to get a person to produce catecholamines, try to run her over in your car.
Anyway, one of the best ways to measure catecholamine levels is through urine testing. So I’m guessing that this smart bra is attached to a colostomy tube that extracts urine from the wearer’s bladder on a continuous basis, which is very sexy.
Of course it could extract blood samples instead.
My head is hurting from all this stupid. Good job my underwear stays in place regardless of my catecholamine levels.
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.