Technology adds new wrinkles to Olympic gear

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By wearing heat-generating clothing — a new material for garments under research in Hebei province — people may feel more warmth than just wearing down jackets in extreme cold weather when the 2022 Winter Olympic Games are held next year.

The clothing, including underwear, gloves, socks and scarves, is made of graphene, a new material with great thermal conductivity.

Wearers can turn the clothing's heat on with a switch when they feel cold, according to He Hongying, a manager of the clothing's researcher Hengshui Lyuneng Jiaye New Material Technology Co.

It is one of the province's special technology projects launched by the Hebei Provincial Development of Science and Technology earlier this year. It aims to serve the 2022 Winter Games, which are scheduled to be held in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province.

Located about 180 kilometers northwest of Beijing, the co-host city, Zhangjiakou, is popular because of its long-lasting snow season, which can go as much as 150 days in a year. Its weather in winter is extremely cold, with temperatures reaching as low as -20 C.

"The heated clothes will be very helpful for people who need to stay outdoors for extended periods — people like volunteers and service personnel," the manager, He Hongying, said. She added that products are now in testing and are expected to be put into production in October.

"By the time the Olympics starts, we will provide the clothes to some volunteers and staff, and if there is more need, we will make more in cooperation with clothing manufacturers," she said.

Another technology project in the province is making ice skating shoes using 3D printing technology. The shoes will be made with high-performance carbon fiber composite materials, which boast such good qualities as minimal deformation and light weight, according to Yang Jintian, a professor of sports biomechanics at Hebei University of Economics and Business, who was quoted in Hebei Daily.

Yang said 3D scanning of athletes' feet and 3D printing will be applied to making the skates, which can be custom-tailored and produced fast.

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