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, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 22, 2020
Technology
Software Capabilities for Self-Driving Cars
JUL 22, 2020
Software Capabilities for Self-Driving Cars
Self-driving (autonomous) cars have already hit the road. The software capability of these cars, especially those that r ...
JUL 20, 2020
Technology
Robotic Human-Like Hands
JUL 20, 2020
Robotic Human-Like Hands
Robots are seen as metallic tough man-made objects that do not align with a ‘soft-touch’. However, there is ...
OCT 02, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Detecting Dystonia in the Blink of an AI
OCT 02, 2020
Detecting Dystonia in the Blink of an AI
A team of scientists have created a diagnostic tool, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), that can pick up on the su ...
OCT 02, 2020
Technology
Does Screen Time Affect Vision?
OCT 02, 2020
Does Screen Time Affect Vision?
The new normal involves a lot of screen time to minimize in-person contact. Does all that screen time from virtual schoo ...
OCT 06, 2020
Technology
Web Resources Provide Insights Into COVID-19 Research
OCT 06, 2020
Web Resources Provide Insights Into COVID-19 Research
Web resources are now helping researchers globally to answer critical questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. These resou ...
OCT 28, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Mimicking Cells With a Microfluidic Chip
OCT 28, 2020
Mimicking Cells With a Microfluidic Chip
Cell culture models are one way for scientists to learn more about biology. But cells grow in large cultures that are of ...
Loading Comments...