We all know the phrase “my spider senses are tingling”, said by Peter Parker whenever danger was near. Well this new suit plays on that idea and alerts the wearer of any nearby objects. This could be perfect for those of us that wish we were Spiderman, or it could also be used for, you know, more important things like helping blind people.
The suit is being designed by a Ph D. candidate at the University of Illinois, and consists of 11 sensor modules and provides for complete, 360 degree coverage. Each of the 11 sensor modules is home to a ultrasonic range finder, which can scan the users environment for objects that are close by, and a servo motor, which is used to alert the wearer of the objects by applying pressure to the skin. The closer the object is to the person wearing the suit, the more pressure is applied. This means that users can get used to the way that the suit applies pressure and be able to tell how far objects are from their body. The fact that different sensors get activated depending on the size of the object means that users can tell how big an object is as well.
The prototype of the suit cost around $500 to make and has a radius of around 60 inches. The suit has also been tested. Users were asked to throw cardboard ninja stars at where they thought close by objects were, and a 95% accuracy rate was reported. While users of the suit probably will not be using it in this way, at least we know that the suit works!
The suit could also be used in a scaled down version, such as sensors used on slippers for elderly people, or sensors on the front and back of a person to warn cyclists of oncoming traffic.
This suit is a great invention, and could prove to be useful in any number of situations. While it is currently only a prototype, we should expect to be seeing this kind of thing pop up more and more in the near future.