WOLLONGONG!! It's a Bionic Bra

In a hidden away research lab at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, a researcher was overheard saying, "Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic bra. This will be that bra. Better than it was before. Better... stronger... faster." Well, okay, no one actually overheard this speech, but we're fairly certain it must've gone down something like that.

There truly is a "bionic bra" that has been under research and development at UoW for over fifteen years, but as far as we know, the bra will not impart any miraculous boost in strength or speed for the wearer. It's essentially a prototype "smart bra" that will respond to the wearer's movements and actions by self-adjusting on the fly. Neat idea.

Pretty sure "Wollongong" is the sound that occurs when a bionic
person is running. And let's face it, if you're going to be running
at 60 MPH you're going to want to be wearing a bionic bra!

 

“Our ability to make things from advanced materials has been greatly enhanced recently with the advent of new approaches to fabrication." says Professor Gordon Wallace, Executive Research Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science based at UOW. "The advent of approaches such as 3D printing has enabled us to assemble structures containing new sensing technologies to more accurately monitor movement and new artificial muscle technologies to control it. These advances have inspired us to (re)confront the challenges involved in creating the Bionic Bra". 

According to Professor Julie Steele, Director of UoW's Breast Research Australia (yeah, really, the "BRA"), long term damage, such as neck and back pain, can occur without the proper breast support. She says “Unfortunately, the most supportive sports bras tend to be the most uncomfortable to wear. Making matters worse, BRA research has found that 85% of women are wearing bras that do not fit or support their breasts correctly.”

Currently the prototype sports bra is not something you'd actually want to wear. But it is starting to become something as they begin the next stages of development. The bra itself is fabricated in "smart fabrics" that feature embedded sensors and tiny mechanisms that can make adjustments as needed for whatever you're doing at the moment. Running? Jumping? Sitting quietly? The bra adapts to give you the comfort and/or support needed.

Bionic Bra team member, Dr Sheridan Gho, said, “Results indicate that our technologies can sense breast motion and provide additional breast support. The challenge now is to integrate these technologies into a functional, comfortable bra.” Professor Steele said in a statement, "...when finished, the Bionic Bra will transform bra design." Well, we won't hold our breath. A finished smart bra is likely a ways off, but it's comforting to know there are mad scientists at work.


Posted on April 16, 2015 .