Ravijour, a Japanese company, is currently marketing a True Love-Detecting Bra, presumably as a novelty item. You can get an idea about this product by visiting this site and viewing the YouTube video.
Basically, the bra has within it a sensor which monitors the wearer's heart rate and other vitals. Data from these measures is constantly transmitted via Bluetooth to a mobile phone which processes the data using a special app and measures the heart rate elevation using special algorithms and preset data and it is only when your heart has truly found that special someone then it would beat in a way that the app would recognize and wirelessly unhook the bra.
As the descriptive material advises,"Ladies can relax as not any changes in heart rates will unhook the bra as the experts at Ravijour say it is only when a woman falls in true love does she get excited enough for the Adrenal Medulla to secrete Catecholamine which affects the autonomic nerve and increases the heart rate which is detected by the sensor and processed by the specially developed iOS app."
Isn't technology wonderful? Well, I have a few concerns.
1) Love, as well as any other emotional experience, is not reducible to a specific set of physiological responses. According to the Schachter-Singer theory of emotion, any emotional experience has two components: the physiological state itself, and the cognitive awareness or interpretation of why that experience is happening. In other words, the pleasures of his (or her) company, the positive experiences that are transpiring, the person's charm and sincerity all come together with the physiological arousal to result in that wonderful and complex experience that is inferred into "I am falling in love with that person."*
2) How sensitive are the measures in fact? Many commercial products that purport to measure physiological events are notoriously low in reliability. And the Love-Detecting Bra does not factor in the cognitive awareness of the wearer.
3) One's bra becoming unhooked should never just automatically happen in the moment. The moment should be private, planned, and after a suitable passage of time or occasions.**
To take an extreme case: Suppose I was wearing one of these bras, and it suddenly happened while I was giving a presentation to a graduate class that I would suddenly be overcome with these physiological responses due to another student's presence. (Yes, getting smacked by true love in the moment!!!!!) Frankly, the last thing I would to happen is to have a bra malfunction at that time! Besides the embarrassment, it might actually serve as a distraction to lessen the likelihood of their being a reciprocal response on his part.)
4) Suppose you just want to get out of your bra for other reasons. Will there be Prince Charmings around to make house calls or road service?
*In the future I plan to write about misattribution of emotional states, but that is another story.
**Think of the old-time intimacy rules.
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