Federal Hill firm designed wearable technology to keep U.S. Olympians warm

U.S. athletes appeared stylishly dressed in Polo Ralph Lauren parkas as they streamed into PyeongChang Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies a week ago. And thanks to some wearable technology, designed in part by a Baltimore-based firm, Team USA came prepared for the region’s frigid weather.

Ralph Lauren, an official outfitter of Team USA since 2008, said in RL Magazine that the company turned to some of America’s “most innovative companies” to create a heated jacket for the U.S. Olympians.

Key Tech, a Federal Hill maker of medical, industrial and consumer products using technology, met the fashion designer’s challenge of creating a slender, lightweight battery pack that would not add bulk and could be controlled by athletes wearing gloves, the magazine said.

Other contributors included Teflon inventor DuPont, which put conductive ink technology in the jacket; 99Degrees of Lawrence, Mass., which bonded the heater to the jacket’s lining; and Principled Design, a New York firm that created connectors that attached the battery pack to the heater.

“The team took it to a new level, using flexible fabrics to heat a jacket in a way that we had never seen before,” David Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s chief innovation officer, told the magazine.

A blog post on Key Tech’s website said that Ralph Lauren needed to power the jacket heaters for up to 11 hours.

“RL needed to develop a discreet and elegant rechargeable power module that would live in the jacket,” Andy Rogers, a partner and director of business development for Key Tech, said in the blog post.

He said Key Tech developed the concept over several months.

A Ralph Lauren representative could not be reached Friday. The CEO of Key Tech said interviews needed to be cleared through Ralph Lauren.

Speaking of frosty, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife also wore the jackets as they shared the VIP box at the opening ceremony with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo-Jong, the director of the propaganda and agitation department of the Workers' Party of Korea.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lmirabella

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