This ultrasound bra could detect cancer sooner

By Grace Browne

In 2015, Canan Dağdeviren was working as a postdoc at MIT when she learned that her aunt, Fatma, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Dağdeviren, whose work focused on building flexible devices that could capture biometric data, flew to the Netherlands to be with her relative in those last moments.

At her aunt’s bedside, Dağdeviren sketched an idea for an electronic bra with an embedded ultrasound that would be able to scan breasts much more frequently and catch cancers before they got the chance to spread.

It was just a way of offering her aunt a slice of solace at an unimaginably difficult time. But when Dağdeviren became a faculty member at MIT the following year, the bra stayed on her mind. Today, she’s an assistant professor of media and arts at the MIT Media Lab, where she leads the Conformable Decoders research group. Her lab’s mission is to harness and decode the world’s physical patterns—one thing that means is creating electronic devices that conform to the body and capture data.

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