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Researcher develops Spidey-sense suit

by Mike Hoffman on February 28, 2013

A researcher is working on a suit that could give a soldier Spidey-sense that Spider-Man enjoys. That’s right, the ability to sense approaching objects without looking at or hearing them.

Victor Mateevitsi, a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is developing a wearable suit that would provide the person a sixth sense. He has even called the project SpiderSense with a nod to the Marvel comic hero.

The way the suit works is it picks up on ultra sonic reflections from objects that are coming toward it. Once it senses the object, the suit can moves the arms and legs to adapt to the object.

He has already tested it on students that he blindfolded to see if they could still have 360-degree awareness. When someone approached the person wearing the suit while blindfolded,Mateevitsi had the person throw a cardboard ninja star at them. Ninety-five percent of the time the person wearing the suit was able to sense the approaching individual.

Mateevitsi is not working with the U.S. military yet. He said he could foresee his suit helping blind people.

However, the military is aware of Mateevitsi. On Thursday morning, the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command Twitter handle tweeted a story about Mateevitsi’s research.

The U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has already shown interest in developing Spider-Man like capabilities for servicemembers. DARPA’s lab has started work on developing “biologically inspired aids” to allow soldiers, Marines or special operators to scale walls wearing Spider-Man suits.

The Geckskin project, however, has hit a roadblock as the program looks for additional funding.

It’s likely that there will be at least a few military observers Mateevitsi’s SpideySense suit when he presents it in March at the 4th Augmented Human International Conference in Stuttgart, Germany.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

john February 28, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Imagine this type of suit combined with the DAS information on the F-35.
Another option would be ground avoidance and situational awareness for helipopter pilots.

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D.W. March 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I think I may not be understanding the idea. As I recall, ultrasonic is typically a short-range sensor system (even bats can only use their ultrasonic hearing and echolocation for short range navigation, and have to use their eyes for actual terrain navigation). Airplanes and helicopters are thutteringly, bowel-rupturingly loud vehicles that can be hundreds or thousands of meters away from any interesting (or even solid) objects. They also tend to vibrate a lot, which would generate issues when trying to pick up on micro changes in air density. It seems like any objects worth detecting would be too far away, drowned out by your own engine noise, or lost in the noise generated by your own airplane, sort of like trying to see visible light at the pitch-black bottom of the ocean when the insides of your own eyeballs glowed in the dark.
This stuff is above my pay grade, so these may be resolvable and you may be onto something. Just saying, it seems like a rough environment for this.

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Twidget at Large March 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm

D.W. you didn't think your reply through, by using the suite in an aircraft pilot sensor role the suite would be hooked up to the radar and/or infrared, and any other sensors on the aircraft. examples: engine problems = legs tingling; wingmen in formation = no need to look, you can fell them on your flanks.

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D.W. March 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm

The original post seemed to be referencing the spatial sensing capabilities of the suit, which are explicitly described as being ultrasonic in nature. Ultrasonic would not likely work well in an aircraft role.

The idea of slaving the suit's tactile capabilities to the existing sensor systems is certainly an interesting idea, though.

"D.W. you didn't think your reply through" is needlessly patronizing, though.

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riicky February 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Holy shut, no way. So that's how the ninjas did it back in the 1800. Be awesome to have.

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suomynonA March 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Web-shooters included or it's not worth my time…

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Will March 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm

It's not clear what "the suit can moves the arms and legs to adapt to the object" would mean in practice. Soldiers won't want to throw sharp objects at everything that happens to come near them.
The Colonial Marines used ultrasonic motion detectors in the movie Aliens.

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stephen russell March 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm

PR for suit

Next 007 movie
Next Marvel movie?
For sale
For use by Spec Ops.
Use by Security Roving

Awesome idea, love to sample suit./

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U.S ARMY March 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm

thats pretty freaking cool. nice way to change the way war is fought

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Restore Palestine March 2, 2013 at 12:06 am

Hair-brained "researcher" kissing Hollywood's ass.

Or too much weed in his system.

No wonder the Army likes the idea.

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Wasted generations March 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

give it up Palestine is gone, I do not see any Arab countries letting many Palestinian people in.

Wake up you are being used by your arab brothers as a cause to keep fighting senseless wars

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Lee March 3, 2013 at 6:59 am

You still have the matter of special ops carrying equipment into combat and that would cover part of the body's sensors, rendering it in part useless.

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noe March 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

i sure hope they use this in the army and for blind people. IT WOULD MAKE SPIDERMAN BETTER THEN EVER!

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noe March 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm

im glad victor is using spiderman as his inspiration. he's a great hero and to invent something that help others in this world using spiderman as an inspiration, is something AMAZING! keep it up victor!

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prashant April 16, 2013 at 6:21 am

ya i agree yo must want to keep it up… best wishes for the project

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gorodn March 7, 2013 at 6:18 am

From a grunts perspective: this may be to be to good to be true, regardless I'd welcome anything that'll give me the edge when it matters the most, on the other hand one cannot put to much trust on technology that attempts to mimic instinctive human awareness. Mind you, I do understand the logic. IMHO I just don't see it's usefulness when your in an up & up fight and your situational awareness is so keyed up you instinctively shut everything out except what your trying to kill albeit with a rifle or with your hands, or in a dog fight or dodging flak.

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Tim March 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Sitting in a foxhole in the dead of a moonless night..I want one now.

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Orlando moving companies April 10, 2013 at 4:34 am
SFP May 23, 2013 at 2:28 am

It’s not clear what “the suit can moves the arms and legs to adapt to the object” would mean in practice. Soldiers won’t want to throw sharp objects at everything that happens to come near them.

Reply

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