Ok, so admittedly I’m a bit of a geek, and my love of all things Iron Man knows no bounds. But surely I’m not the only one who has dreamt of being a super hero, be it a super diva like Wonder Woman or an indestructible Super Man?
Growing up though, I’ve become more and more drawn to characters such as Batman and Iron Man, Superheroes whose powers are the somewhat less far fetched combination of money, gadgets and intelligence. Granted I’ll probably never be as intelligent as Iron Man, or as rich as Batman, but the prospect of one day possessing the technological powers of these superheroes is increasingly stepping out from the realm of science fiction into reality.
Recently, a group of students from the Royal College of Art created Eidos, unique headgear that enhances the senses in ways fairly similar to Iron Man’s helmet. Enhancing both sight and hearing by allowing the user to focus on details usually lost amongst the vast amount of information fed to our senses constantly, equipment like this would probably have been involved in the initial stages of Tony Stark’s efforts to design the Iron Man armour. It consists of two main parts: an eye piece that filters visual information in real-time so that patterns in movement can be tracked in ways that would otherwise be impossible for the naked eye, and a lower face piece that can isolate and amplify sounds to heighten hearing to give the user a superhuman audio and visual experience.
This technology, in combination with tech such as that used in Google’s frighteningly amazing ‘Google Glass’ may finally pave the way to creating the kind of wearable smart technology of the recent blockbuster Iron Man films. Google Glass allows the user to view the world through a smart computer operating system interface filter, allowing you to almost seamlessly perform many of the tasks previously limited to smart phones, desktops and other forms of hardware which exist in technology far more separated from our own bodies.
Google Glass allows the user, via a simple wearable eye piece, to seamlessly view the world with an enhanced technological overlay not too dissimilar from Iron Man’s own. With Google Glass you receive a full augmented reality view of the world. You could use voice controls to overlap maps and directional information over what you’re seeing in an unfamiliar location, take photos and recordings of sights instantly as you see them, or perhaps in time even be able to see additional information on people just by looking at them.
This kind of technology has vast potential, from being able to perform surgical operations with whole new levels of computer assisted focus and precision, to helping children with ADHD concentrate in the classroom. Alternatively, as one of my friends pointed out “Imagine if you had Grindr built into those glasses? You could literally look at people and know if they were gay or not, pull up their profile, decide if you were interested in them or not, and just go strike up a conversation with them there and then, anywhere in actual day to day life”… Appealing?
But if you’re anywhere near as much of a big kid as me, the only reasonable application for this kind of technology is to build yourself the most amazing Iron Man suit ever! This is something fanatic fans of the Iron Man franchise have been trying to do for years (just search ‘iron man fan costume’ on Google images if you don’t believe me). So could you be the next Iron Man? Well, with this kind of technology around, it certainly doesn’t seem impossible any more.