Bra Sensors Could Monitor Overeating: Page 2


"Those brave women kept having to run to the bathroom to charge their bra," Czwerwinski said. "I think an insert in the foot would be good because feet are really sweaty."

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Czerwinski and others in the field of affective computing are trying to find ways to get technology to monitor and understand human emotions and perhaps offer simple prescriptions. A Microsoft phone app under development has users visit social media sites or write positive emails as simple ways of elevating mood.

Another project with cancer doctors gives them instant feedback on their degree of patient empathy, or, put another way, their "bedside manner." A wall fabric with built-in sensors detects whether the doctor is talking or listening during a patient visit and whether the physician is using warm or cold emotional language. The fabric, in the form of a flower, then changes shape and color as a way of helping the doctor improve communications.

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As for stressful eating, another psychologist says that maybe we shouldn’t worry about it so much. Gudrun Sproesser, a post-doctoral student at Germany’s University of Konstanz, published a study recently that calls into question the oft-held belief that stressful eaters are engaging in negative behavior.

Using an experiment where volunteers were put into a stressful situation and then given ice cream to eat, Sproesser found that self-described stress-eaters did binge on ice cream. But when they were put into positive situations, they compensated by eating less. Volunteers who skipped food when stressed actually ate more than the stress eaters when they were happy.

"The message should be that people shouldn’t people think too much about their eating," said Sproesser. "If they feel like eating in a positive situation, they should; if it’s negative, they probably will compensate for that."

Sproeusser, whose study was published last month in the journal Psychological Science, said the next step is to find out whether stress-eaters can switch from unhealthy junk food to healthy food and still deal with feelings of stress.

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