We've seen many novel uses of cutting-edge technology, from bicycles powered by fuel cells to tiny wind turbines for personal use, but surely none as odd as the latest underwear that helps its wearer lose weight.

The magical garments are the product of research at Japanese materials firm Teijin and are built on the company's expertise in nanotechnology.

Industrial material

Teijin's Nanofront fibre is made of strands that are just 700 nanometres thick – that's 7,500 times thinner than a human hair. Ordinarily, it's used in precision polishing cloths for industrial mirrors and the like.

Aside from making the underwear miraculously soft, the Nanofront also rubs the skin in such a way that it creates imperceptible friction that actually burns subcutaneous fat.

2010 launch

Teijin says tests have shown that wearing garments made of the fibre for 40 consecutive days cuts overall body fat and can reduce waist size by "several centimetres". There's no word on whether or not that's the same pair for 40 days in a row.

If all goes well, the new wonder pants could be on sale by next summer.