Their SpiderSenses are Tingling

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A group of researchers from the University of Illinois,  SpiderSense , have developed a device that expands the human sensory range. The team, which consists of members Victor Mateevitsi, Brad Haggadone, Jason Leigh, Robert Kenyon, and Brian Kunzer, presented their findings at the 4th Augmented Human International Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on the seventh of this month.

The group developed this idea using recent scientific advancements that increases the number of energy forms detected by humans. They have made use of ultrasonic distance-sensors which alerts the user of any hazardous obstacles within the range of approximately five meters. By projecting the body’s relation to its environment, it not only increases directional awareness but also notifies it through sensory receptors on the skin. However, since the prototype is still in development, there have been a few minor discrepancies during testing. When carrying out an assessment of hallway navigation with a blind-folded subject, they found that once he became accustomed to SpiderSense, he navigated himself with increase speed and ease in comparison to when he started. However this then increased the subject’s collisions into the wall and the constant pressure of the SpiderSense signal against his flesh made his perception of distance weaker.

Although SpiderSense has not yet recreated Spiderman’s web-slinging and wall-climbing abilities, sensory detection is certainly a good place to start. They should also probably perfect the glitch in distance detection; Spiderman would not be half the man we know him to be if he constantly bumped into alley walls. However, Spiderman copycats are not SpiderSense’s only potential clients.  According to SpiderSense’s research paper, their project could positively affect many previously disadvantaged people:

“Individuals with dysfunctional or missing senses may not perceive important cues from their surroundings. For example a person with a hearing disability or poor vision may not be able to perceive an oncoming car while crossing a street.”

For further information on SpiderSense, there paper is available here.

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