Water circuitry!

Bra technology

I really had no idea bra engineering was so complex.

But as this piece in the New York Times — devoted to recent bra-technology patents — points out:

Bodies differ vastly. Breasts can be pear-shaped, apple-shaped or melon-shaped. They can be asymmetrical. They can be spaced close together or far apart. And breast tissue can range from as little as 8 ounces in one woman to as much as 10 pounds in another.

And so a bra design can pose engineering challenges as formidable as those encountered in building a bridge or a skyscraper. This is why the bra continues to benefit from small, incremental improvements, Professor Farrell-Beck said.

Last week, for example, S & S Industries, a Bronx company, received United States patent 6,468,130 for a new type of underwire — one that is supposed not to poke through fabric, even under stress from laundering. S & S, which says it is the largest supplier of underwire for the brassiere industry, has solved that problem by designing a plastic tip for the ends of the underwire that sits on a little spring, according to Ajit Thakur, a vice president at the company who is a co-inventor of the tip, along with Joseph Horta.

“Poke-through has been a problem forever,” Mr. Thakur said. “Everyone has been trying to solve this. We may have found the holy grail.”

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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