Scientists at Australia's University of Wollongong are hoping to boost women's workouts, but not with training tips or special sports drinks.
They're working on a bionic bra. Or, more specifically, on a sports bra that would automatically adjust in response to a woman's breast movements--providing extra support when it's needed without reducing overall comfort.
That's not such an easy combination to find.
"Unfortunately, the most supportive sports bras tend to be the most uncomfortable to wear," Dr. Julie Steele, director of Breast Research Australia (BRA) and professor of biomechanics at the university, said in a written statement. "Making matters worse, BRA research has found that 85 percent of women are wearing bras that do not fit or support their breasts correctly.”
And so Steele and her colleagues are hoping their bionic undergarment can solve those problems.
The bionic bra is knitted with movement-sensing "smart" materials. When the wearer moves, the materials send an electronic signal to the bra's fibers to tighten or adjust in response.
In an early prototype of the bionic bra, the fibers contract near the clasp at the back. In future bionic bra designs, the fibers will cover the entire piece, the New York Post reported.
"The components are currently modular and are fitted onto a commercially available sports bra," Steele told The Huffington Post in an email. "Ultimately, we will design an integrated product that will be custom manufactured."
The bra was discussed Nov. 30 at the 9th Australasian Biomechanics Conference (ABC9) at the University of Wollongong.