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Brief Published: 11 Feb 2014

Sochi 2014: Motion-Capture Skate Suit


A high-tech speed-skating suit developed using motion-capture technology has made its debut at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The Mach 39 suit, developed by American clothing maker Under Armour in collaboration with US defence firm Lockheed Martin, is currently being worn by the US speed-skating team.

Using motion-capture technology, the suit’s creators analysed the movements of speed skaters across the ice, using the data to make fibreglass mannequins that mimicked the poses of the athletes. The mannequins were then used to test the performance of hundreds of prototype suits in wind tunnels, examining how different materials and suit designs affected aerodynamics.

The final suit has tiny dimples on the hood and moulded polyurethane shapes on the thighs to minimise wind resistance.

Motion capture is often used in the making of Hollywood movies: actors wear special suits that digitally capture their body movements, allowing animators to create more lifelike computer-generated imagery. However, high-tech sportswear designers are also exploring the potential of motion capture in sportswear design – Under Armour previously launched a range of sports bras developed using the technology.

For more on the latest material innovations and technical textiles, see our coverage of the latest Techtextil trade show and the report Advancing Apparel