Every four years the Winter Olympics are held, with the event this year being hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Running from February 9th to 25th the games feature a record 102 events in fifteen sports disciplines. Nearly 3,000 athletes from 92 National Olympic Committees are competing in the games this year.
Wearable technology is usually associated with gadgets that count your steps and calories, but there is now a growing market for winter sports technology. The games at Pyeongchang this year are set to be the most high-tech ever with everyone from bobsledders to ski jumpers fitted with a wide range of devices to improve their performance. Below are some of the wearable technology being used in the games this year.
Olympic SmartSuits for Skaters
SmartSuits are one of the pieces of wearable tech being used by the Dutch short track racers at the games. These SmartSuits are designed to improve users ideal skating positions by feeding real-time body position metrics to the national coach’s smartphone. An accompanying smartphone app used by the skaters reads the data and sends signals back to them in the form of a vibrating buzz at the wrist – this allows skaters to immediately adjust their posture.
The Dutch national coach Jeroen Otter commented “By quantifying the posture we can train even more effectively. I have noticed that Sjinkie and Suzanne already benefit from this unique innovation. At the championship level, it’s all about the details. Training with the Samsung SmartSuit and the immediate feedback via the smartphone can make the difference between silver and gold.”
The Dutch short track racers are the only skaters in the world currently using this technology, however, they are only able to wear it during training and not actual competition.
Opening Ceremony Parka
The games this year are predicted to be the coldest in 20 years, and to combat this Ralph Lauren has created a self-warming jacket.
The battery-powered, water-resistant garment was worn by Team USA during the opening ceremony, keeping them warm throughout it. Heating settings for the jacket can be tweaked via a smartphone app and the battery for it lasts around 11 hours between charges.
Chief Innovation Officer at Ralph Lauren David Lauren commented, “The team took it to a new level, using flexible fabrics to heat a jacket in a way that we had never seen before. Beyond adding extra warmth, the technology added a modernity to the iconic style of the Olympic and Paralympic outfits, and the American flag pattern was a clever touch.”
Although the parka is only a limited-edition garment, feedback from the American athletes will decide how to integrate the technology into future products.
Using a wearable called Halo Sport, the US ski team are looking to boost their chances of winning. Halo Sport, which looks like a pair of overly sized headphones is a device that makes use of Neuropriming sending pulses of energy to prime the brain, powering athletes most effective workouts.
Neuropriming has been found to put the brain into a temporary state of ‘hyperlearning’ improving the brain’s response during training. When this is paired with workouts, users accelerate in strength, dexterity, and explosiveness.
Wearable NFC-enabled Payments
Visa has come up with a load of Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled wearable payment products for the games this year, such as Olympic pin, commemorative sticker and a pair of gloves.
Each one of these wearables works as a prepaid card, with the customer deciding on the amount at the outset. Tapping these wearables on one of the 1,000 NFC enabled terminals or readers throughout the Olympic venues enables fans and athletes to be able to pay for a number of items, from souvenirs to food and other items. To make this happen Visa teamed up with financial arm of the South Korean retailer Lotte to manufacture the payment gadgets.
A visa spokesperson commented on the technology saying, “We’re looking forward to seeing the reaction and adoption from fans and athletes in South Korea. While we can’t disclose the number of devices that have been produced and sold thus far, each wearable is a limited-edition item so they will be highly coveted on-the-ground at the Games.”