Who doesn’t want real-life superpowers? Unfortunately, getting yourself bitten by some kind of radioactive spider isn’t really the best way to go about it. But thankfully, tech is here to resurrect your childhood hopes and dreams. University of Illinois’ Victor Mateevitsi, for instance, has managed to bring “spider-sense” to the real world with a haptic bodysuit.
The concept is simple. The suit is outfitted with a number of microphones to detect danger (or anything really) around you by picking up on ultrasonic frequencies, like a form of radar. It then relays this information to you with a series of robotic arms that push at your skin from the same direction the noise is coming from. The result is a suit than can both warn you of assassins sneaking up from behind and tripping hazards that just happen to be in your way as you stumble through the dark.
Mateevitsi tested the suit by outfitting some volunteers, blindfolding them, and then asking them to throw cardboard ninja stars at perceived threats, presumably while other volunteers menaced at them in the shadows. The suit worked to point out the “danger” a stellar 95 per cent of the time. Ideally, the tech could be used as a navigation system for the blind, or outfitted for other stimuli like radiation. Or, of course, as augmentation for some kind of ninja vigilante. It’s due to be presented at the Augmented Human conference in Stuttgart, Germany, in March. And from there, straight on to the super heroes. Hopefully. [New Scientist, Victor Mateevitsi]