As athletes from around the globe converge on Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Winter Olympics, they must steel themselves for winds that will whip in from the Manchurian Plain and Siberia and fan icy temperatures that are likely to drop to around 7 degrees Fahrenheit. Meteorologists say this year’s games will likely be the coldest Olympics since Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994—a year when the opening ceremony was so frigid organizers had to cancel plans to release doves because they worried the birds would suffer.
For the designers and engineers who spend years crafting Team USA’s uniforms to offer both style and extraordinary aerodynamics, the need to keep athletes warm in these extreme temperatures posed an added dimension of difficulty. And Ralph Lauren, the brand outfitting the American team for the opening and closing ceremonies, was up against the most daunting challenge. Those two outdoor events take place at what will likely be the coldest location of the entire competition: the roofless, open-air Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. In November six people attending a concert there reportedly developed hypothermia.
“We knew about the cold,” says David Lauren, chief innovation officer at Ralph Lauren, “and hit on the idea of using wearable technology to keep our athletes warm.” The result: bonded to the interior of the red, white and blue opening ceremony parkas are printed strips of electronic, heat-conducting metallic ink, made of silver and carbon (in the shape of an American flag, of course)—sort of like a stylish electric blanket, but with ink instead of wires.
Athletes will be able to activate their self-warming jackets by pushing a button on a slim lithium-ion battery pack. Once switched on, electrons will surge through the silver ink till they hit a resistive carbon pad, which will generate heat. The system is designed to provide up to 11 hours of warmth, and has three settings so athletes can control their own temperatures. The technology was adapted from heated car seats and made more stretchy and flexible for the Ralph Lauren Olympic apparel, according to the company. The white waterproof bomber jackets Team USA will wear for the closing ceremony are equipped with the same ink-based technology.
Athletes on the U.S. bobsled team will also be outfitted with innovative suits that designers say will provide anywhere from two to four degrees Fahrenheit of extra warmth as they hurtle down the outdoor course at 90-plus miles per hour. The added heat comes from a novel fabric technology designed to lock in body warmth known as “ColdGear Infrared”—a proprietary blend of compounds including ceramic material, a common thermal insulator. The CGI will be embedded in the fabric’s fleece lining, the company says. “When you wear it against your skin it absorbs and retains your body heat,” says Mark Cumiskey, a textile engineer and senior director of materials innovation at Under Armour, the company that designed the U.S. bobsled and speed skating teams’ uniforms. (The makers of CGI fabric claim it retains heat longer than similar fabrics.) “The added warmth will be most important right before the race, when the athletes are standing on the top of a mountain in what amounts to a tight, stretchy base layer,” says Chris Laughman, Under Armour’s senior product manager for Olympic apparel. “They’ve already told us the new suits are warmer than the ones they’ve had in the past—and they’re pretty happy about it.”
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US
Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes
Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!
Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi
Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!
Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!
EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey
New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!
No comments yet.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.