High-tech gloves, masks to warm Olympic athletes

Updated: Dec 2, 2021 By YANG CHENG in Tianjin China Daily Print
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High-tech gloves and masks that can generate heat and control temperatures will be sent this month to Chinese athletes and coaches preparing for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Researchers at Tiangong University's School of Textile Science and Engineering in Tianjin are speeding up production of 200 masks and 200 pairs of gloves to complete the project, said Liu Hao, a professor at the school and the head of a key technology research project working on clothes that will be able to combat the cold at the Winter Olympics in February.

Liu said they should arrive in Zhangjiakou, the co-host of the Games, next week.

Tiangong University has already provided 490 masks and 197 pairs of gloves made by researchers to the Chinese team.

Temperatures in Zhangjiakou fell to -30 C in January, and Liu drove with a team of experts to deliver the gloves and masks to the athletes on Jan 25 so they could test the products.

The masks and gloves to be delivered next week are the result of many tests and revisions since then.

Liu said they feature state-of-the-art technologies in heating components, along with flexible and wearable components and an intelligent temperature-control algorithm.

Sensors empowered by the algorithm collect body and outdoor temperatures and control the heating from 45 C to 65 C, he said, adding that is a major improvement on currently available products that require the wearer to set temperature controls manually.

"Inside the gloves, the circuits, serving as 'blood vessels' or 'nerves' and made of silver nanowire, carbon nanotubes, graphene and some substances like high polymers, are made to be flexible to allow for natural movement, and are the key to transmit the temperature signals," he said.

The electronic signals are aided by tiny chips, and the heating materials and intelligent components are powered by lithium batteries.

Liu said the masks have two to four heating parts, while the gloves have one for each finger.

The components contribute 12.9 percent of the weight of the masks and 8.9 percent of the weight of each pair of gloves, and "will not hinder the movement of athletes", he said.

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