This superhero-inspired tech is now a reality
From Batman to Spider-Man, superhero technology has moved from the comics to the shopping cart.
Ever since the first modern superheroes were born on the pages of Marvel or DC Comics, kids and adults the world over have fantasized about flying, climbing up buildings or taking on the bad guys without feeling a punch.
Thanks to modern technology, some of these fantastical superpowers are slowly inching toward reality. Below are just a few of the high-tech wonders that may soon have us leaping over buildings in a single bound.
Daredevil's enhanced senses
While Daredevil's enhanced senses remain fixed in the world of comic books, there is high-tech progress being made to assist those with visual impairments.
Israeli startup OrCam has developed a small camera that assists the blind or visually impaired with understanding text and identifying objects. When attached to a pair of glasses, the device will read back text from menus, road signs, or any other words within its line of sight. The device also features facial recognition to assist the user with people he or she may know.
“It is unobtrusive so people feel comfortable wearing it. It is small and mobile so it is helpful everywhere. The battery lasts all day, so it becomes a useful tool for daily life," OrCam executive Dr. Yonatan Wexler, a graduate of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, tells From The Grapevine. "It has the most intuitive user interface: Just point at what you want the device to tell you – there is no need to fiddle with yet another device."
Ever wish you could scale walls and buildings as easily as Spider-Man? Thanks to the efforts of researchers, there may come a time when this superpower is made available to the masses. No radioactive spider bite required.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, inspired by the gecko and its remarkable powers of adhesion, have developed a thin fabric capable of sustaining a high load on a vertical or overhanging surface. How powerful is it? According to the UMass team, a piece of Geckskin about the size of an index card can easily hold a maximum force of 700 pounds suspended from a piece of glass. Even more remarkable, the fabric peels off easily when not in use and leaves no residue behind.
As you can see in this video, Geckskin can be used on everything from painted walls to wood and metal.
Created by Unified Weapons Master, the Lorica suit features a blend of lightweight, flexible materials and comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. (Photo: Unified Weapons Master
If Batman ever finds himself short a suit, he could do little better than the Lorica Mk II suit from Australian company UWM. Made from a blend of carbon-fiber composites, various polymers and other proprietary materials, the suits are strong enough to protect from blows to the head or chest by swords, clubs and other weapons.
"They also contain a range of advanced electronics including a variety of force measurement sensors, a competitor POV camera and a two-way microphone," CEO David Pysden told SolidSmack. "We intend to also include a GPS (for team events) and biometric sensors (to monitor heart rate, body temperature and other factors)."
Rather than fight villains, the suits are designed to allow martial artists an opportunity to fight with weapons and test their skills without seriously injuring someone. The company hopes one day to perfect the design to the point where it can replicate the currently custom-made suits at a more consumer-friendly price point.
The Rocketeer's jetpack
If you have $250,000 lying around and have always dreamed of flying skyward like "The Rocketeer," you may soon be able to cross that goal off your bucket list.
American firm Jetpack Aviation has developed a jetpack called the JB-10 that is reportedly as easy to operate as a Segway. “If you want to go forward, you just lean forward," founder David Mayman told Digital Trends. "If you want to stop, you just lean back. It’s incredibly simple. If you wanted to fly a helicopter, you’d need 150 hours of training – but with this, you can learn everything you need to know in about three hours.”
Unlike a Segway, however, this jetpack will send you skyward at altitudes over 10,000 feet and at speeds up to 70 mph. Just like the Rocketeer, however, you'll have to watch your fuel gauge: each flight currently only lasts about 10 minutes.
Jetpack Aviation plans to begin selling the JB-10 starting in 2019.
Tony Stark's JARVIS
While the artificial intelligence of assistants like Alexa, Google Home and even a robotic Albert Einstein are impressive, what we're really looking forward to are the A.I. systems present in today's best science fiction.
Go ahead and count Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as someone who feels the same way. For the past year, the billionaire has been on a mission to build his own home-based A.I. system nicknamed Jarvis (after Tony Stark's version in the "Iron Man" franchise).
"I've built a simple AI that I can talk to on my phone and computer, that can control my home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security, that learns my tastes and patterns, that can learn new words and concepts, and that can even entertain [daughter] Max," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.
While Zuckerberg's Jarvis is still a far cry from the one in "Iron Man," such concepts do show just how far we've come with home automation in only a few short years.
While not made of Adamantium, the fictional metal alloy grafted onto Wolverine's skeleton, these fully automatic replica claws are the next best thing.
Designed by British engineer Colin Furze, the 12'' long blades are powered by an air ram and deploy and retract at the push of a button. As Furze demonstrates in the video above, they're also incredibly sharp and capable of slicing through soft objects. If he transforms his body and grows a beard, the X-Men are certain to come calling.
Wonder Woman's cloaking tech
Will Israeli actress Gal Gadot take a flight in Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet in the upcoming movie? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we've not yet perfected that high-tech cloaking. But there is some progress being made in our efforts to make objects seemingly disappear.
One of the more amusing cloaking technologies in recent years, an excellent example of something called "active camouflage," occurred in 2012. To promote its new zero emissions F-Cell car, German automaker Mercedes-Benz covered the vehicle in a fabric composed of LED lights. A camera on the opposite side of the vehicle projected an image through the LEDS, making the car appear nearly see-through.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:
Related Topics: Gal Gadot