A Last-Minute Gift Idea for That Special Someone

The article was written by my former student and friend Mike Lamm. Mike is a reporter for the Decatur Daily Democrat.

This may be a somewhat desperate attempt to link the topic of this piece to academia, but after I read it, I couldn’t help but wonder how the folks who have done the R&D on these products might have described the nature of their work in progress reports or on grant applications—and, if any of them have been academics, how they might have done so in their self-reporting for their annual-evaluations or in their promotion and tenure documents.

Originally, I was going to re-post this piece with the title, “I Wonder If I Can Make These on My 3-D Printer.”

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Technology is a marvelous thing. It has brought us the wonders of the digital age, from consumer electronics like personal computers and cell phones to space-age building materials and high tech fabrics for apparel.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “technology” as “the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area,” while Wikipedia points out that a negative aspect of technology can be an “unwanted by-product,” most-often classified as pollution.

Now, it seems, textile manufacturers have zeroed in on a “particular area” to apply modern technology, while attacking a specific “unwanted by-product” and type of pollution at the same time. Enter flatulence-filtering underwear.

Marketed under a number of names from manufacturers as far flung as Japan and Australia, the undies use an odor-absorbing fabric to capture and eliminate odors before they ever escape your pants.

If you’d like to break wind with wild abandon regardless of where you are, then a Japanese manufacturer has your solution to worry-free flatulence. Deoest underwear from Seiren states it is coated with a ceramic powder to absorb all kinds of unpleasant odors, including gaseous emanations. The product explains that metal ions in the powder break down malodorous compounds, destroying up to 80 percent of the odor within 30 seconds.

The product was originally created to accommodate the needs of people suffering from intestinal disorders. “At first, we thought about selling them to those who require nursing care and to hospitals,” Seiren spokeswoman Nami Yoshida reported. “But to our surprise, lots of ordinary people, like businessmen who are in positions that require them to see people on a daily basis, bought them.”

Seiren states it took years to develop underwear which was not only comfortable but also able to eliminate the funk. A pair of boxers or briefs will cost you about 3,200 yen, or nearly $40 each.

Now available in the United States, from a company called Under-Tec, Inc., are Under-Ease, marketed as “underwear for flatulence,” with the slogan, “’Wear them for the ones you love.’” The advertising notes that the product is “recommended by doctors for offensive gas” and designed as ‘revolutionary new air-tight underwear that contains a charcoal filter which filters out noxious bodily odors before they can escape into the atmosphere.”

According to the company’s website, “Under-Ease are anti flatulence underwear for protection against bad human gas (malodorous flatus) and are made from a soft air-tight fabric (polyurethane-coated nylon). Wearing Under-Ease results in odorless flatulence.”

From Australia comes 4Skins, a product which claims to use technology from California-based Nano-Tex to fabricate “odor-eliminating nanotechnology” into the fabric’s individual fibers which will then attract, isolate, and neutralize odors on the fabric, as well as any passing through. The 4Skins tagline playfully suggests that you “keep it in your pants.” Rather discriminatory in its demographics, the company manufactures only boxers and briefs for men, possibly falling for the old adage that only men pass gas.

No fear, ladies. Knockout! Smart Panties offer a similar “No Trace” patented odor-capturing technology that utilizes “natural fibers bonded with natural odor-absorbing molecules that act like tiny ‘pockets’ to encapsulate odors.” And Knockouts even come in nine fashionable styles.

But if odor-eating underwear is just a bit too high-tech for you, there’s also Subtle Butt, marketed as “fart-absorbing pads you stick to your own underpants” which “allow you to let ‘em rip without embarrassment, neutralizing the smell of bad gas.” Like all of the other products mentioned here, they can be mailed directly to your home in a discreet, unmarked package.

Just keep in mind that none of the high-tech underwear, no matter how well it deals with the silent but deadly variety of the odiferous emission, includes a muffler.

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