When it comes to recreating Spider-Man’s superpowers, those silly string-blasting, wrist-mounted “web shooter” toys are mere child’s play, at least compared to what Victor Mateevitsi has up his sleeve.
Mateevitsi, a computer science grad student at University of Illinois at Chicago, has built a suit called SpiderSense lets you feel the proximity to nearby objects or lunging villains. In fact, it’s so sensitive and tingly that users can navigate with their eyes closed.
The suit is composed of small, robotic arms encased in microphone-equipped modules attached to one’s body. The mics send out and receive ultrasonic reflections from objects within one’s environment. If the ultrasound detects a person or thing moving closer to the mic, the robotic arms respond by putting pressure on the corresponding body section from wherever the “threat” is coming.
To give the wearer nearly 360 degrees of tingling Spidey Sense, there are seven of these modules distributed across the suit.
“When someone is punching Spider-Man, he feels the sensation and can avoid it. Our suit is the same concept,” Mateevitsi told New Scientist.
Even cooler than the suit itself may be Mateevitsi’s methods for testing it. He blindfolded his suited-up subjects, asked them to stand outside and “feel” for approaching attackers. Each subject was given cardboard throwing stars to tap into their inner ninja and use whenever they sensed someone approaching.
“Ninety five per cent of the time they were able to sense someone approaching and throw the star at them,” said Mateevitsi.
Mateevitsi believes the suit, or just a few sensors on the arms and back, holds applications for cyclists who want to increase their awareness in traffic. He his colleagues also want to test SpiderSense on visually impaired people and add more sensors for future trials.
Credit: Yumeto Yamazaki/AFLO/AFLO/Nippon News/Corbis