Minerals Make Wearable Tech

Posted on August 08, 2016 by Minerals Make Life

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to see the benefits of high-tech fitness gear. Modern performance athletic wear and fitness tools are more technologically advanced than ever, resulting in an increased need for minerals to keep pace with demand. From world-class athletes to the average person with fitness goals, wearable technology has created a way to track and monitor your efforts with unprecedented precision.

Counting steps and monitoring heart rate are just two ways to track progress and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The smartphones that run fitness apps and the wearable gadgets that accompany them contain minerals and metals that allow for lightweight wear and biometric computing. Silver is one of the important components in sensor technology, used for its ability to conduct electricity extremely well.

Silver plays a role in high-tech textiles as well, helping wick away moisture and perspiration. Because of its antimicrobial properties, silver eliminates bacteria and prevents odors, making it appealing for use in athletic clothing. When woven into an athletic shirt, silver helps athletes comfortably monitor heart rate and muscle activity. Innovators have also been experimenting with using stainless steel (made from iron ore) in athletic fibers, which has the added benefit of thermal insulation, aiding athletes who perform in cold conditions. In order to keep high-tech garments lightweight enough for comfortable use and high performance, new fibers containing graphene are changing the game.

As our performance gear gets “smarter,” so should our access to the raw materials used in their manufacture. Despite the growing demand, it still takes nearly 10 years to acquire a permit to access the minerals required for manufacturing and innovation, making inefficiency one of the chief threats to U.S. global competitiveness.

Learn more about the essential applications of minerals to everyday life.

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