Wearables to Look Out for at the 2018 Winter Olympics
Wearable technology is having quite a moment at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. From sophisticated fabrics fighting frigid temperatures to gloves making it easier to buy hot chocolate at Olympic venues, e-textiles can be spotted all over at the Winter Games. Here's a look at some of the coolest wearables keeping athletes warm and ready to win gold.
Fashion Tech for Warmth
During Feb. 9th's opening ceremony, Team USA sported patriotic outfits by Polo Ralph Lauren including a stylish parka. While fashionable in iconic red, white, and blue, these coats are also keeping American Olympians warm with the aid of a removable, rechargeable battery and conductive ink. The battery, stored in a pocket, powers an American flag emblem which is printed in conductive carbon and silver ink on the inside of the coat. The emblem heats up with an option of three warmth settings (controlled by an app), and the battery life pushes eleven hours. Team USA will also wear a white self-heated Ralph Lauren bomber jacket at the closing ceremony.
Wearable Digital Wallets
Olympians and fans can go cashless at Olympic venues with NFC-enabled gloves, pins, and stickers created by Visa in partnership with Lotte Card. NFC, or near-field communication, uses tiny chips and antennas that transmit payment info; It's the same idea as Apple Pay. Athletes and fans are able to purchase credit and then use these commemorative accessories to make contactless transactions.
Wearable Tech for Training
Two Dutch short track speed skaters, Suzanne Schulting and Sjinkie Knegt, have been wearing specialize SmartSuits created by Samsung to help them optimize their training. The suits are connected to an app, and their coach Jeroen Otter can monitor the skater's body position. If their posture needs correction, Otter notifies the skater with the touch of a button on a smart phone and Schulting or Knegt feels it as a haptic (physical) notification on their wrist, allowing for course correction. The Samsung SmartSuit is both an interesting advancement in fitness wearables as well as in promotional sponsorship.
While the SmartSuit won't be worn by Schulting or Knegt in competition, it's one of the many wearables allowing athletes to train smarter. Another such technology is Halo Sport by Halo Neuroscience. Halo Sport is a set of wireless headphones that improves muscle memory through a process called neuropriming - which involves electric impulses that put the brain in a state of "hyperplasticity."
In addition to brain-zapping headsets, some Olympians use virtual reality to train when they're away from the ice and snow. Sport Techie reports that the US Olympic Ski & Snowboard Team worked with VR company STRIVR to create specialized simulations, so skiers and snowboarders could train on virtual slopes.
Speaking of VR, you can experience the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games at home. Check out NBC's website for a list of VR offerings. The site also offers info on how to use your particular VR viewer (from Oculus to Cardboard) to witness Olympic history in a variety of immersive ways.