Smart breast set to improve the lives of breast cancer survivors

Smart breast that could improve breast cancer recovery

Smart Breast
Smart phone. Smart watch. Smart home. Smart car.

Smart breast? Now you’re talking.

Ten years ago, Kathy Reid was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. A decade later she is studying cybernetics – the management of cyber-physical systems and evaluating how the technology relates to environment – at ANU in Canberra, and has built a piece of technology that may very soon optimise the lives of the estimated 19,371 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone.


Her technology is called Sense Breast. The prosthetic breast aims to improve recovery of breast cancer survivors by using sensors to monitor movement, temperature, and pressure through a computer board; not unlike a chip.

The data that is collected by the senses can then be used to tailor a specific physiotherapy program for women recovering after breast surgery.

“This has been an outlet I can express some control over something that has been a part of my life by being able to create something that others can use,” Reid told the ABC’s Brooke Wylie.

“We can look at things like how much movement and what range of movement the person who’s wearing the prosthetic has. My vision is that women all around the world can use this to experiment, to tinker, and it might even help them with their breast cancer journey as well,” she said.

Everyday, I think about the myriad of ways the creators of technology, stories, buildings,  legislation and law – implement their unique life experience into their project or craft, and the impact it has on the rest of the world.

Reid’s invention is further proof of why we need more women in technology; designing machinery that serves us, that might help improve diseases or cancers that disproportionately affect women.

Last month, Reid participated in IBM’s World Community Grid, where she donated her computer device’s spare computing power for 22 days to help scientists solve the world’s biggest problems in health and sustainability.

“I think if we had more women in technology,” Reid said, “particularly older women who are the cohort that is most often diagnosed with breast cancer, I suspect we would have seen something like this a little bit sooner.”

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