If there's one thing we know for sure — after seeing heating jackets, moisture-wicking bras and distance-tracking sneakers — it's that technology and fashion have come together to create some truly impressive products.
Now a group of researchers at the National University of Colombia's School of Electric Engineering has created a prototype for a breast cancer-detecting bra. If further developed, the bra could help prevent a disease that affects nearly 1 in 8 U.S. women.
According to the team, abnormal cells "generate more blood supply," which in turn changes the temperature of the breasts. "When there is presence of foreign cells in mammary glands, the body requires more circulation and blood flow in the specific part where the invasive cells are found, so the temperature of the body increases," one of the students explained on the university's website.
So, how exactly does this bra work? (If it works?) The software developed by the team monitors and records breast temperature using infrared sensors. The bra is just a prototype. The team is currently forming a long-term plan of developing and marketing the bra for all women at an "affordable price point," one of the researchers, Maria Jaramillo, said.
This is merely a preventive measure, and not a medical device. In other words, if a woman saw an abnormality in her recorded breast temperature, she should then schedule a doctor's visit to confirm any suspicions or issues.
This is not the first cancer-detecting bra. In 1997 researchers, including retired pathologist Hugh Simpson, tried to create a bra that would also measure the temperature of a woman's breasts using heat sensors. More recently, in 2015, California-based Cyrcadia Health began development of the "iTBra" to monitor heat changes, with results being sent straight to your smartphone.
It is unknown whether the iTBra or the version being created in Colombia will ever be mass-market produced. Further, it is not guaranteed that the product would work on every woman. But if they ever hit the market, these bras could make for an easy at-home way to detect a disease that will affect just shy of a quarter of a million people in the United States alone in 2016.