Spider Suit Augments Human Senses

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


 Body Augmentation
In a prototype suit developed by students at the University of Illinois, the wearers senses nearby objects in much the same way Spider-Man detects danger without the benefit of sight. This example of body augmentation points to a future where the five human senses cease to be limiting factors to our experience of the world.
Ever get that feeling there is someone right behind you? Victor Mateevitsi from the University of Illinois does, which is why he'd built a suit that does the job to a far greater degree of accuracy. SpiderSense is a suit that uses a series of microphones to rend and receive ultrasonic signals from the space around you, like high frequency radar.

When the outfit senses something approaching, a robotic arm corresponding to the microphone exerts pressure on your skin, pointing you in the direction of the danger. Such technology promises to augment and expand our perception in the near future.

“The suit was an outcome of the Human Augmentics class taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago by Prof. Jason Leigh, Prof. Robert Kenyon and Prof. Steve Jones,” Mateevitsi told Forbes. ”The suit was envisioned in brainstorming sessions with Brad Haggadone and Brian Kunzer, the two students I collaborated with to built the suit. During our meeting it became apparent that we have reached a point where technology can sense and react to dangers that we humans cannot sense."

"Radiation for example, is invisible," said Mateevitsi, "It has no smell or odor, while it is extremely deadly for the humans. Therefore we started experimenting with ideas on how we can use technology to augment our perception of the surrounding environment.”

Mataveetsi writes on his website for the project that “this fusing of technology to human’s forms of perception enables exciting new ways of perceiving the world around us. The millions of sensory receptors that cover the skin presents opportunities for conveying alerts and messages.”

The bionic suit consists of 11 sensor modules positioned for 360-degree coverage. Each sensor module houses an ultrasonic range finder and a servo motor. The sensor modules scan the environment for obstacles and alert the wearer to them by exerting pressure to the skin via the servo motor's arm.

The prototype suit, which cost $500 to make, has a 60-inch radius. Different sensor modules get activated depending on the size and the position of the nearby object, meaning the outfit would react differently to a big scary mugger sneaking up from behind than a cute kitty cat approaching from the front.

Mateevitsi tested the gear by blindfolding researchers and asking them to throw a cardboard ninja star whenever (and wherever) they sensed a threat and the participants scored results 95 percent of the time. SpiderSense got get its first public showing at Stuttgart's Augmented Human Conference in March and it's hoped that the hardware will eventually help blind people get around easier.

SOURCE  Forbes

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