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[Discussion] Mizuno Unveils Infrared-Blocking Fabric to Protect Athletes' Privacy at 2024 Paris Olympics

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Mizuno's Revolutionary Fabric for the Olympics

Athletes from Japan, notably from the volleyball and track teams amongst others, are set to take the field in uniforms made from a groundbreaking fabric that exhibits exceptional absorbance of infrared light. This technology, echoing the radar evasion features of stealth aircraft, intercepts infrared light, preventing it from reaching cameras and infrared sensors.

No stranger to controversy, certain devices have inadvertently showcased the prowess of infrared sensing. For instance, OnePlus 8 Pro’s “Photochrom” color filter worked akin to X-ray vision on the slender body of an Apple TV. When applied to humans, infrared photography can reveal the unseen, outlining the body contours or undergarments beneath thin layers of clothing, such as sportswear worn by athletes.


Need for Innovation: An Athlete's Dignity

In 2020, an unfortunate event triggered the development of this game-changing fabric. Several athletes lodged complaints to the Japanese Olympic Committee after distressing experiences where photos taken by infrared cameras ended up on social media platforms with sexually explicit captions.

Subsequently, this marked the initiation of a collaboration between Mizuno, Sumitomo Metal Mining, and Kyodo Printing on a mission to balance decency and performance. The result was a stretchable fabric that fits the stringent criteria for athletic uniforms while providing a shield against infrared photography.

Superior Infrared Shield: An Experimental Success

Mizuno's newly developed fabric has made significant strides in curbing infrared photography. In experiments conducted and shared by Mizuno, the results were compelling. A black printed “C” was barely visible when hidden beneath a layer of their “Game uniform fabric” and the innovative infrared-absorbing fabric, even when targeted with an infrared camera. While additional layers of the fabric could further enhance the performance, it is crucial to maintain the comfort of the athletes.

With concerns raised about the extreme heat anticipated at the Paris Olympic Games, the athletic uniforms aim for a balance of privacy protection, cooling, and comfort. It features a design to thwart intrusive spectators whilst ensuring the athletes remain cool and comfortable during the competition.

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