Smart underpants share how you're feeling

New nano-tech lets comfortable sensors that relay health data to be printed on your tighty whities--you won't feel a thing.

Not my style, sorry. RSC Publishing

Most people go to great lengths to keep others from knowing what's going on inside their pants. But skivvies that relay data about the wearer could benefit some people--say soldiers. Yes, we're talking about tighty whities that talk.

Joseph Wang, a nanoengineering professor at the University of California at San Diego, has come up with underpants that have sensors built into the waistband to sense blood pressure, heart rate, and other biological markers. (As if I haven't written enough about high-tech underwear lately.)

The idea is to let remote doctors keep an eye on a soldier's vitals during field surgery, the meatball "put the guts back in" stuff that takes place on a battlefield before an injured warrior can be taken to a field hospital for better care. If you've seen an episode of "M*A*S*H," you know what I'm talking about. Hopefully they'll create a female version of the underwear for Klinger.

The trick is that instead of being sewn into the briefs, the sensors are printed on with a technique similar to that employed by ink-jet printers. The sensors can't be felt against the skin any more than the elastic already there, so there's supposedly no discomfort.

The underwear then relays the biometric data nonstop, allowing medical teams to better and more quickly treat the wounded. But the military is just the start. If found practical, the new sensors (and comfy, comfy underpants) might end up in hospitals as a new way to track patients' progress with less invasive sensors than those used now.

I'm just hoping there's a boxer version of these in the works. I don't do briefs. Not my thing.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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