This Is The High-Tech Jacket Keeping The USA Olympic Team Warm

Photo: @poloralphlauren

The U.S. Olympic Team got a serious winter-ready wardrobe upgrade for this year's games in South Korea. Of course, style and aesthetics are chiefly regarded as an important factor when designing the jacket, but this year’s games invite a somewhat more novel consideration into the mix: warmth.

With temperatures in South Korea expecting to plummet to an almost unfathomable 7 degrees with wind chill, this year’s Olympics are expected to break the record for coldest games in history since the 1994 Norway games. Athletes have trained under intense conditions to prepare for their performances under the spotlight, but the inclement weather have many wondering how the extreme cold will weather interfere with their safety and performance? Well, Team USA made a proactive decision to invest in some high-tech gear to help battle frigid temperatures.

Designer Ralph Lauren, the official outfitter of the 2018 games, teamed up with engineers to design a parka jacket and bomber jacket set equipped with self-warming and heat-tech capabilities. "We knew about the cold and hit on the idea of using wearable technology to keep our athletes warm," Ralph Lauren’s chief innovation officer David Lauren told Scientific American.

Photo: Ralph Lauren

The jacket operate similarly to an electric blanket—but instead of wires, there’s an invisible ink woven into the interior of the red, white, and blue flag, located on the outside. The jacket is also powered by a separate lithium battery pack that’s sewn into the garment. Once turned on, electrons pulse throughout the ink until they hit a carbon-resistive pad that in turn jump-starts the production of heat. When charged, it can last up to 11 hours. Despite the high-grade technology, athletes will have to activate the jacket’s self-warming capabilities by adjusting the temperatures up or down on the smartphone app.

And in the case that the weather spikes above or drops below reported temperatures, the designers stress-tested the jackets in meat freezers to ensure that they would withstand temperatures as low as 20 below zero.

Here's to the future of fitness tech prioritizing both functionality and comfort.

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