The idea is that a pregnancy simulator might help a dude (or a lady who has yet to experience the joys of pregnancy) better empathize with pregnant women.
Even setting aside the obvious issue that the simulator wearer is not experiencing hormonal changes, and that he can take the simulator off at any point (oh, the freedom), there is something downright bizarre about a man who appears to be pregnant. (See video below.)
Get past the oddity and the Mommy Tummy 8.0 is actually an impressive little (and then rather suddenly big) gadget. It comprises a water bag, touch sensor, acceleration sensor, and fetal air actuator to simulate the growth, weight, and even movement of a fetus.
The air actuator is made of little balloons that inflate and deflate at random to simulate a kicking fetus, while the balloons placed in front of the chest area simulate breast development. Water is pumped into a bag to expand the belly area, and is even maintained at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If that isn't enough, a vibrator inside the jacket simulates the fetal heartbeat.
The researchers report on their Mommy Tummy Web site that they are considering commercializing the simulator, but that for now it remains a work in progress: "Small issues with maintenance, like having to exchange a balloon that bursts during simulation, must first be resolved."