For thousands of years humankind has been obsessed with figuring out ways to get a better sense of our surroundings, knowing when someone is intruding our space and any hazard that might be around the next corner. In ancient times people would use buried drums as early warning systems, sentries and scouts. With the electronic age these gave way to home and car alarms, collision avoidance systems on our vehicles and remote controlled cameras. Now, a PhD student, Victor Mateevitsi, at the University of Illinois is working on a suit that will bring us closer to that personal human warning system that we have always been striving to obtain with all of these past attempts.
Mr. Mateevitsi's reason for creating the SpideySense suit is to help the blind be able to be aware of their surroundings. He has already done some testing using sighted students that he has blindfolded with some extremely promising results. In fact his results have been so good that it has caught the attention of DARPA (defense advanced research projects agency) for possible military applications.
Mr. Mateevitsi dubbed his project SpiderSense as a reference to the comic-book hero Spiderman who can detect impending danger through his spider-sense. The character of Spiderman was first co-created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 for Marvel Comics. That same spider-sense was very possibly an influence on science fiction writer Gene Roddenberry when he wrote about a neural sensor dress that help a blind woman in one episode of the original Star Trek series.
The suit works through a series of ultrasonic sensors that are strategically placed around the suit. The sensors are then connected to a control box by ribbon cables, in the same way that drives in your home computer. Once the suit in hooked up the information that the ultrasonic sensors pick up is transmitted by electrical impulses to the wearers brain.
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