By MaryJo Kosisher-Demski
If you randomly poll 100 women you meet today on the street, at the grocery store, at your kid’s pee-wee soccer game, or at the gym and ask them one simple question, “Why do you wear underwear,” I dare say you’ll receive a myriad of responses. “Aren’t I supposed to?” “So nobody can see through my white shorts, of course!” “I want to feel sexy under these jeans.” “I’m not quite in the same shape I was prior to having children so these panties rein me in.” Well, here’s another one that’ll soon be added to that extensive list, “I need to monitor my blood pressure.”
A team of scientists, led by nano-engineering professor Dr. Joseph Wang of the University of California – San Diego, has enhanced the ongoing “boxers vs. briefs” debate by developing a high-tech men’s brief that contains an electronic biosensor in its waistband. Instead of being sewn into the briefs, these biosensors – with their abilities to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs – are printed on the fabric using a technique similar to conventional screen-printing. The sensors can’t be felt against the skin to any greater degree than the elastic already there, preventing any discomfort. This project was funded by the American military and its effectiveness will likely soon be tested on the battlefield.
When interviewed by Reuters, Professor Wang explained, “This specific project involves monitoring the injury of soldiers during battlefield surgery … the goal is to develop minimally invasive sensors that can locate, in the field, and identify the type of injury.” The ultimate goal is to be able to use a waistband biosensor to remotely release drugs into the body of a wounded soldier, after initial injury detection, and immediately begin treatment.
But don’t think that these cyber-undies are strictly for battlefield scenarios. An everywoman version may one day make its way into a department store near you. Forget those “old school” medical alert bracelets promoted with catchy commercial taglines. When asked how these biosensors could help the general population, Professor Wang replied, “We envision the trend … for remote monitoring of the elderly at home … [such as] monitoring a wide range of biomedical markers, like cardiac markers, alerting for any potential stroke, diabetic changes, and other changes related to other biomedical scenarios.” My word, think of the silver foxes of the future trending in zebra print medical panties! One can even imagine their use by those of younger generations who suffer from chronic medical conditions.
Yet another potential civilian application for cyber-undies could be in monitoring the blood alcohol levels of those who’ve run afoul of DUI and DWI laws. Cumbersome (and telltale) ankle bracelets will be relics of the past. It would certainly give probation officers a powerful new tool. Talk about Big Brother!
It’s only a matter of time before this technology works its way into the mainstream economy … and into the ladies’ lingerie department of your favorite store. Someday when you’re sitting at your son’s endless soccer game on a hot July afternoon, you’ll have the distinct pleasure of knowing that you’re lacy, sexy, and reined in beneath your jeans, AND done in the sun when your panties alert you to an elevated blood pressure and a high body temperature. Bring on the shade – and more life-saving skivvies!CC Image courtesy of alancleaver_2000 on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/ / CC BY 2.0 CC Image courtesy of Karen Roe on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/28752865@N08// CC BY 2.0