FEB 14, 2018 10:05 AM PST

4 High Tech Suits Olympians Are Sporting

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Some things about the Olympics, like incredible athletic prowess and a balance of international competition and unity, seem to stay the same. Meanwhile, technology races forward in the realm of premiere sports and accordingly, this year’s participants in the Winter Games in South Korea are outfitted with several new iterations of high-tech gear. Under Armour’s speedskating suits are one prime example – they have a new texture that is meant to boost aerodynamics.

Under Armour skating suits, credit: Under Armour, Dainese skiing vest, credit: Getty images

Skate Suits

Speedskating fans may recall that Under Armour’s 2014 skating suits for the U.S. had a back air vent, which was designed to release heat. It also reportedly ended up letting air in and may have lowered the skaters’ speed. Whether they possessed a technical flaw, or the athletes simply lacked ample time to train in and adjust to the new uniforms (they received them two weeks before the games), it was a controversial model and the team ended up switching out to a previous suit design during the competition. No medals were won in speedskating for the first time in three decades.

"With all of the data we've seen and all of the hours in the wind tunnel and the analysis, we have extremely high confidence in saying this is the highest performing aerodynamic skin we have developed over these eight years," Under Armour Materials Innovator Mark Cumisky said of the latest designs in 2018.

The new spandex suits are described as having a somewhat gritty texture. The goal of this design is to disrupt the potential vacuum that forms around the limbs of skaters and make their movements more aerodynamic. They also feature friction-reducing fabric for the thighs and an asymmetrical waist seam designed to match and support the skaters’ two primary movement patterns of heading straight and turning left.

"You want these guys to focus on their performance and not have to worry about anything else," Shane Domer, sports science director for Under Armour, said.

Heated Jackets

During the Feb. 9 opening ceremony, athletes from the U.S. wore Ralph Lauren parkas with electronic-printed heating ink. The inks created a flag design in the coats that kept the competitors warm at three settings for up to 11 hours. They were even thoughtfully designed to be adjusted on cell phones with glove-clad hands.

Smart Training Outfits

Some Dutch short track skaters use Samsung SmartSuits to prepare for their events. During training, embedded sensors send data about the athletes’ body movements to their coach’s smartphone. She or he can then advise them on improving their form and even send communicative vibrations directly to their bodies through the suits.

Ski-Impact Gear

Some of Team USA’s downhill skiers will wear Giro impact-protection helmets that were created to reduce rotational impact as well as side impact, with a ball-and-socket design and extra padding on the sides of the head. Olympic skiers from several teams are also using Dainese airbag vests this year, which can deploy in milliseconds, to improve the safety of their events.

Along with these examples of the latest high-tech sporting gear, the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea also features 80 robots, as previously reported by Labroots.

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech and conservation.
You May Also Like
OCT 07, 2018
OCT 07, 2018
Adaptable Prosthetic: The Smart Seat Cushion
Developers at the University of Texas at Arlington have recently patented a smart seat cushion that utilizes changes in air pressure to allow the redistrib...
OCT 10, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 10, 2018
OnSight Lets Scientists Study the Martian Surface with Virtual Reality
NASA’s Curiosity rover has been physically exploring the surface of Mars since 2012, but as it rolls along, it sends surface data back to scientists...
NOV 29, 2018
DEC 01, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 01, 2018
Illuminating the Role of Membraneless Organelles
Princeton researchers created new tools to study liquid phase separation inside of cells, and how it influences cell behavior....
DEC 03, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 03, 2018
Hierarchical control representation in the brain, a key to creativity
Multivariate cortical surface activity (electroencephalogram, EEG) decoding paradigms have been used to investigate the hierarchical representation of action plans....
DEC 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 06, 2018
Rare Uranium Compounds Capable of High-temperature Superconductivity at Near Normal Pressure
Uranium is often associated with nuclear fuel materials, but very soon they could be used to power a new wave of industrial revolution. Scientists from Rus...
Loading Comments...