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Evan Schuman: Bluetooth bras and bumping bozos

Tech overreach now has its mascot: the True Love Tester bra. How do companies green-light such hare-brained product ideas?

By Evan Schuman
February 4, 2014 07:21 AM ET

Computerworld - Engineers and developers, left unchecked, have a tendency to create products and services just because they have figured out how to do something cool, regardless of whether it's a product or service that anyone would ever want. Examples of engineers gone wild crop up from time to time, but I think we have now found their mascot, a slick product that would repulse even the most sheepish focus group. For your consideration: the Bluetooth bra.

This bizarre product, first reported on by Wearables Insider (a good site to track if you need to keep on top of wearables), cannot be unhooked until the bra's sensors conclude that its owner has found true love. Well, true love as defined by engineers, which in itself is a worrisome concept.

In a video made by Ravijour, creator of the True Love Tester bra, an anonymous medical expert describes the process. "When excited, the adrenal medulla secretes catecholamine, which affects the autonomic nerve and stimulates the heart rate. A built-in sensor reads the woman's heart rate signal" and analyzes changes. A chart then shows the different heart rate patterns associated with things other than true love, including jogging, flirting, receiving a surprise gift, shopping, eating spicy food and watching a horror movie. Part of me wants to ask what happens if someone is eating spicy food while watching a horror movie and simultaneously flirting.

By the way, that video is truly a must-see. It appears to have been conceived and created when every one of the company's marketing and IT supervisors was away on holiday and the interns were in charge.

The white-coat-wearing person in the video who offered that description is identified only as a "doctor/former med school associate professor." I wonder whether this endorsement played any role in the "former" part of his academic title?

The voiceover in the video stresses to listeners that "this innovative bra cannot be unhooked without true love." Great. They've created a New Age version of a chastity belt. Hopefully, there is some sort of override command, on the remote chance that a woman might want to take a shower during a moment when she isn't in the throes of true love.

As watchers of that video will see, when the bra's circuitry decides that true love has been discovered, the bra doesn't merely open. In the well-chosen words of tech site TweakTown: "The app does not simply release a locking mechanism on the bra. It apparently flings the cups open with much gusto."

I think we can all agree that it would be a problem if the True Love Tester bra were to fling open randomly when no true love exists or lock tight when it does. But what makes this product technology-overreach poetry is that it's an almost certain disaster even if it works perfectly.



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