Next Up in Knickers: Mood Undies
As geeks, it's almost obligatory to want the latest and greatest technology on the market, no matter what it may be. There may well be an exception to that rule, however, if the latest out of UC San Diego catches on: digital drawers.
We're not entirely sure whether to file it under "amazing innovations" or "what were they thinking", but engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed underwear that can keep tabs on the wearer's vital signs from wherever they might be. Professor Joseph Wang — seriously, we couldn't make this up if we tried — says the bio-bloomers can currently monitor heart rate and blood pressure, but he hopes to expand their capabilities to track everything from stress levels to blood alcohol concentration.
The secret to Wang's success is in screen printing. Rather than simply building sensors in to apparel, as has been done in the past, Wang's undies have carbon electrodes printed onto the waistband, making them both comfortable to wear (reportedly) and highly durable. The printed panties are unaffected by stretching, folding, and other normal wear, he noted.
All jokes aside, the technology does hold a great deal of promise. Patients who would otherwise require hospitalization for monitoring/observation could be sent home under skivvy surveillance, reducing healthcare costs and congestion. Soldiers, athletes, and others under high stress could be tracked in a non-invasive manner, and if Wang's plans for future development come to fruition, the techno-unmentionables could find themselves in a whole host of locations.
For the moment, don't expect to find anything but low-tech lingerie at the local Walmart. Still, knowing geeks as we do, if Wang's undies take off, we suspect it won't be long until someone is developing a Linux distro with skivvy support or hooking their high-tech hotpants up to Twitter.
Indeed, a hard-hitting review might even find its way into the pages of Linux Journal. Should that happen, I nominate our lovely and talented Associate Editor, Shawn Powers, to give the techno tighty-whities a go — I would, but I wear boxers.
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.