Scientist Victor Mateevitsi of the University of Illinois in Chicago has invented every comic book fan's ultimate fantasy: a body suit that grants its wearer the powers of Spider-Man, reports New Scientist.
Mateevitsi's suit has the amazing ability to "tingle" whenever an object gets too close, effectively mimicking Spider-Man's famous "spidey sense" that warns him of danger. The suit, which is actually called SpiderSense, is so sensitive that users can even navigate a room with their eyes closed.
The technology works thanks to miniscule robotic arms that are encased in microphone-equipped modules that send out and pick up ultrasonic reflections from objects, kind of like how sonar works. When the sensors detect a nearby object, the arms exert a pressure on the body that grows in strength the nearer the object gets. The pressure is also directed at the area of the body where the object is nearest. This nearly gives the suit's wearer a 360-degree awareness of whatever might be coming his or her way.
"When someone is punching Spider-Man, he feels the sensation and can avoid it. Our suit is the same concept," explained Mateevitsi.
In order to simulate the comic book appeal of his suit as much as possible, Mateevitsi tested it on blindfolded students equipped with cardboard ninja throwing stars. The students were then asked to throw their ninja stars at whatever objects they sensed coming their way. (Because obviously if you haven't invented Spidey's web-shooters yet, the next best thing is a ninja star.)
According to Mateevitsi, students threw the ninja stars at their targets with 95 percent accuracy.
When not being used to combat lunging villains in the dark, the suit could also become an invaluable tool for blind people, helping them to feel their way around. Athletes such as football players or cyclists might find it useful as well. Football players could sense incoming defenders (thus helping them avoid crushing hits), and cyclists could improve their awareness in traffic. Really, the suit could be useful for anyone interested in having extrasensory perception. (And who doesn't want extrasensory perception?)
Mateevitsi is already planning future versions of the suit with more sensors so that the sensitivity can be increased. He envisions similar types of suits that contain electronic sensors, so that users can feel electromagnetic or radioactive fields. Such suits could aid workers in nuclear power plants. (Imagine that, a Spider-Man suit that actually prevents you from encountering a radioactive spider.)
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