Ralph Lauren deploys wearable tech for Team USA’s Winter Olympics uniform

Ralph Lauren deploys wearable tech for Team USA's Winter Olympics uniform

Fashion giant Ralph Lauren and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) have unveiled athlete uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The jacket includes adaptable heat technology that can be controlled using a smartphone app. 

Even as temperatures in PyeongChang plunge to an expected 15 degrees Fahrenheit next month, Team USA’s athletes will manage to stay warm and look good while doing so.

The team’s opening and closing ceremony uniforms have been put together by Ralph Lauren to harness wearable technology, all while paying homage to some of American fashion’s most iconic symbols.

Beyond the jeans, mountain boots and brown suede gloves is a parka that contains in its lining heat-conducting ink, meaning it can warm up, on demand, just like an electric blanket.

Read more: British Athletics deploys digital pacemakers for Rio Olympics

Conductive inks to keep athletes warm

“Ralph Lauren is excited by the convergence of fashion and function, and we are committed to supporting Team USA athletes by outfitting them with the latest innovative technology. We’re proud that we’ve worked so closely with the athletes, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee, to keep evolving and improving,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer at Ralph Lauren.

“The uniform celebrates the American spirit, with iconic pieces updated with modern details and technical fabrications.”

Ralph Lauren deploys wearable tech for Team USA's Winter Olympics uniform
(Credit: Ralph Lauren)

Because the temperature conditions on the ground could change by the hour and athletes will be moving between indoor and outdoor environments during both ceremonies, the Ralph Lauren design team needed to avoid a temperature-specific jacket.

Instead, the heating system is made from electronic printed conductive inks – handily made into the shape of the American flag – that are sewn into the interior of the jackets. These conductive inks are flexible, stretchable and connect to a power pack with three thermal settings.

Each jacket offers 11 hours of heating time at full charge. Athletes can adjust the heat setting through an accompanying smartphone app.

Read more: US government to fund research into smart clothing for emergency staff

Ralph Lauren looks to technology once again

Despite being a fashion brand associated with the importance of tradition, this isn’t the first time Ralph Lauren has used technology to take its sports clothing to the next level.

In the past, the company has unveiled solar-powered backpacks and base layers with biometric tracking for ball boys and girls at the US Open. For the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Ralph Lauren upped Michael Phelp’s blazer game with illuminated panels spelling out ‘USA’.

This won’t be the last time that, as USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird says, “Ralph Lauren effortlessly weaves style and functionality into the opening ceremony uniform.” After all, one team’s fashion is another’s marginal gains.

Read more: IoT gets tops scores from sports teams worldwide

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Harrison Manufacturing deploys Sawyer robot to increase throughput

Harrison Manufacturing deploys Sawyer robot to increase throughput

Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics takes over cutting work from human colleagues at Harrison Manufacturing in Mississippi.

Harrison Manufacturing, a US-based custom plastics injection molding manufacturer, has taken a step forwards in automating its assembly line.

At its Jackson, Mississippi facility, the company recently deployed the Sawyer robot from Rethink Robotics in a bid to boost the efficiency of its production processes, with a knock-on bonus for product quality.

Company founder and president Scott Harrison said that the family-owned business has already seen a range of benefits, including reduced labor costs and increased throughput, and adds that the robot only took a few hours to set up.

Read more: IIoT and the rise of the cobots

Sawyer gets to work

With Sawyer, Harrison Manufacturing has also been able to improve the consistency and quality of its products, mostly plastic components for use in the automotive industry (including parts that go into interior trim, safety belts and car seats) and consumer products.

Sawyer works on ‘degating’ plastic parts, a job that involves removing excess plastic from a finished part once it emerges from injection molding. This cutting work is repetitive, said Harrison, and can lead to human error, wrist strain and even injury in staff.

“We’ve been seeking an automation solution for this task for some time, but traditional methods weren’t affordable or effective for our situation,” he said. The company simply does not have the floor space to accommodate a bulky traditional robot, nor would it want to foot the costs involved.

Sawyer has provided an answer. The one-armed robot with a compact footprint was launched by Rethink Robotics in 2015 at prices starting at around $ 29,000. Its main selling point is the ease with which non-techies can program the robot to perform simple tasks on manufacturing lines without having to first learn in-depth programming skills.

“Sawyer allowed us to use our employees in less strenuous tasks, while increasing throughput with extended shifts, so we can better meet growing customer demands,” said Harrison.

He now has plans to install a second robot. “I have another Sawyer in the box,” he confirmed. “After our experience of quick deployment with the first robot, I expect it to be up and running just as smoothly as before.”

Read more: Could hackers force industrial cobots to go rogue?

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Internet of Business

Standard Chartered deploys Kasisto chatbots to help customers

Standard Chartered deploys Kasisto chatbots to assist customers

Standard Chartered banking customers will soon be getting assistance from Kasisto chatbots on a range of money management matters.

The chatbots deployed by Standard Chartered are capable of natural language conversations and, if regulatory approval is forthcoming, the service will initially roll out next year in Hong Kong before being implemented more widely.

The system that’s been chosen by Standard Chartered, meanwhile, is Kasisto’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform, KAI Banking. This is capable of holding contextual and personalised conversations and taking actions as directed by customers. The chatbots can fulfill requests, solve problems, and predict needs, according to the company, as well as help companies support and market their products and services.

Read more: Nuance aims to tackle consumer chatbot concerns

Getting a head start

The system has been built for banking, so it has a head start on being trained to understand Standard Chartered’s products and services. In the specific context of Standard Chartered, the new chatbot service will be able to act as a virtual personal assistant, helping clients manage money, make payments and analyze their spending in a split-second.

Part of the lure of the Kasisto system is its ability to conduct ‘human-like’ conversations. In addition it can function across multiple platforms, including a bank’s mobile apps, web site, Facebook Messenger, and IoT devices like Amazon, Alexa and Google Home.

Importantly, the system it knows when it’s reached the limits of its abilities and will call in a human to take over.

Deniz Güven, global head of design and client experience at Standard Chartered, said: “We are taking disruptive technology and using it to design a client experience that is not just convenient and personal – it’s a whole new banking experience. Looking at how quickly our clients are embracing digital, I expect our chatbot will become a popular way to connect with us anytime, anywhere.”

Standard Chartered joins a list of Kasisto customers that also includes DBS Bank, Mastercard, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo.

Read more: Data scientists developing doctor chatbots for ‘self-treatable’ conditions

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Internet of Business

Alphabet’s Project Loon deploys LTE balloons in Puerto Rico

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“We’ve never deployed Project Loon connectivity from…

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