Techno Bra can raise alarm

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The Independent Online
IT MAY sound like a joke from a Carry On film, but a new device could change the future of female security: the alarmed brassiere.

Techno Bra is the inspiration of Kursty Groves, a designer, and offers more tangible support than underwires.

It contains electric circuits that monitor the wearer's heartbeat and trip an alarm if it leaps suddenly, indicating panic. Unless the wearer responds and switches off the alarm, which vibrates silently, a central computer is alerted and the whereabouts of the bra can be pinpointed with a global positioning system.

The brassiere is still being developed but has awoken commercial interest. Nokia has supplied the communications technology, while Proactiv, a sports electronics company, has expressed an interest in exploring the concept, along with a fabric company, Penn Nyla.

Its creator, an engineer, believes her idea will be a hit with young urban women, particularly those forced to travel late at night. "There's a humorous aspect to this but there are also serious implications," said Ms Groves, who designed the Techno Bra as part of her final degree show at the Royal College of Art in London. "According to the British Crime Survey, young women who live in cities are more affected by crime than any other group."

Washing the Techno Bra is straightforward, as the electronic components are secured by Velcro and can be removed before the underwear is put in a washing machine.

And for those worried that an amorous encounter, or a jog after a bus may have embarrassing results, Ms Groves has reassurance. "The change in heart rate is different when someone is panicked. It climbs very quickly."

More welcome surprises are followed by an increase in heart rate, but the jump is not so marked.