In-vest-ing In Menopause

Most of us reach for an over-the-counter medicine if we have occasional pain, but menopause doesn’t act like that. Hot flashes don’t build like a headache, dizzy spells don’t wait for a good time, and panic attacks don’t announce themselves. Predicting and addressing sudden hormone shifts is the intent behind Menesto, a vest with sensors, cooling apparatus, and a companion app.

A thermometer and humidity detector monitor the skin for spikes in temperature and moisture to recognize when the wearer is having a hot flash. When an event is registered, a fan blows over a Peltier panel’s cool side and hopefully provides enough chilled air inside the vest. A Peltier panel is a thermoelectric heat engine that moves energy away from one ceramic plate to another, so one half gets cool while the other heats up. Power comes from rechargeable 18650 batteries and all the hardware talks to an ESP8266 on a NodeMCU running Arduino.

The next coolest thing is a built-in panic button (panic attacks and anxiety are less common but experienced by some during menopause) that talks to a companion app to send emails. Anyone on the recipient list receives a message that the wearer is in distress, along with their phone’s location. All the hardware is connected and talking, so a wearable test rig is on the horizon to work out the bugs like circulation and heat shedding. There are other nifty features, like a hydration reminder and manual cooling mode built in.

28 thoughts on “In-vest-ing In Menopause

  1. Honest question. Is there a study to show that these symptoms that people feel are measurable with these sensors? And if so will the proposed solution provide help?

    It’s a neat idea but I’m thinking about how I’ll get the chills when I’m running a fever or vice versa, so the thing I feel does not always line up with what is wrong or with the correct way to help me. Sometimes it does I just honestly don’t know which way this lands.

    1. Exactly my thought. My understanding is that a “hot” flash is not an actual increase in body temperature, just a perception of being hot. Sweating does occur, so one could measure that.

      1. Your understanding is incorrect. The project talks about the temperature change that happens. “Researches indicate that the change in skin temperature during a hot flash can be as small as 0.5 ◦C or as much as 5.0 ◦C (Kronenberg F, 1987)…” Given that getting accurate temp changes is hard with external sensors I can see why they would want to bolster with humidity.

    1. Interstitial fluid check might be good, but that’s a lot of untested chemistry/bio to figure out. Hormone therapy takes weeks to kick in so it wouldn’t have the same usefulness as the blood sugar monitors have.

      1. I wonder if the interstitial fluid hormone balance was tracked with an app the data could find patterns in the hormone shifts that could be used to better treat hot flashes (and other effects of menopause?)

  2. While it’s interesting to see technology used this way, there is something very wrong with a young (subjective, I know) white male is reviewing/blogging about technology aimed at addressing issues around a major life change that women face in later life. I’m not saying Brian has done something wrong as such, but the fact a young white male (i.e. member of most privileged group) is righting about that rather than somebody who would actually use it points big problems in our community and culture.

    1. Come on… He’s just reporting on *technology* that could be helpful.
      You don’t have to be a woman to report on temperature/humidity sensors, fans and microcontrollers.

      Just because it’s about menopause doesn’t mean only woman can report on this sort of things.
      He hasn’t “mansplained” how menopause works/affect women, did he? He’s just reporting on the techonology.

    2. I don’t know. Maybe he built it for his mother or s/o who is going through this? Maybe that person doesn’t feel inclined to write about it since she is not the one who made it? It is true I’d like to read the thoughts of the end user of this jacket, but maybe we should not shout “white male privilege” too fast?

    3. What an incredibly toxic mindset. Birth control was invented by Gregory Goodwin Pincus. I assume because he is a white male we better just throw his hard work out the window. It should have been done by a women as it impacts them and the fact it was done by a man points to big problems in our community and culture. Or maybe you can identify that the hard work that man put in to helping women should and is celebrated by all as a great success. Maybe instead of viewing Brians hard work to bring attention to technolgoy dedicated soley to helping people other then himself as toxic, you should look internally.

    4. So it’s wrong that someone not suffering from something try to do something for people that does? That’s a very sick world you live in and one I don’t want to share.
      TL;DR fuck you

    5. This ain’t it. No cookie for you. A writer/journalist putting the spotlight on tech being used for women and folk that that go through menopause is an appropriate and great use of privilege and platform. The project site doesn’t say who built the vest, I hope some menopausal people were consulted and hopefully worked on it, but if not it is still good to see someone building tech that isn’t for the default male body. Let’s be critical of the actual technology and features, does it work? How well? How are they testing it?

    6. So since diabetes tends to affect American Indians more than Whites and hypertension tends to affect Blacks more than Whites then White people should stop researching those things (and especially in how they affect minority groups)? What a wonder world SJWs have made.

    1. I assume the fact that it wasn’t indicates he had neither volunteers nor a marketing budget to hire a model. If modeling it himself was his first choice then well… different strokes right?

      I must say though, as a male watching this I couldn’t help but think about having one of these and reprogramming it to just keep me cool on a hot day. Clothes with active heating or cooling have been a possible future project idea in the back of my mind for many years. If they were already mass produced, even for a purpose that doesn’t apply to me it would be easier and cheaper to adapt it than build it from scratch.

      So long as there are plenty to go around first for people that have a medical need for them of course.

      1. Who is the “he” that didn’t have a model? That pic is from the project page. They don’t list names or genders so we don’t know who made the project, but you are likely correct they used a dummy form that they already had.

        1. You’re right! I saw the stink that “Another_privileged_white_male” made and my mind automatically filled in the detail that the maker was a man and that he was featured in the video and that was what he was complaining about. I went back, re-read and re-watched and I don’t see the maker identified, the complaint was about the HaD author being male. Sorry!

  3. I almost did this project for my capstone project it was for a different spin on it it was for users with hot and heavy clothing like firefighters or working in hot conditions outside such as Texas.

  4. Great idea… You should investigate if this falls under an FDA regulated device. A class I medical device can be as simple as anything that touches the skin but it may also be exempt which allows you to market the device without FDA approval. My gut tells me it’s exempt but I recommend you do your due diligence to verify first. Good luck and I know what I’m buying my wife for Xmas

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