Spidey-sense suit tingles when someone gets too close

February 25th, 2013

Categories: Devices, Human Factors

SpiderSense enables the wearer to sense danger in his environment.
SpiderSense enables the wearer to sense danger in his environment.


Victor Mateevitsi, a PhD candidate in the UIC Computer Science Department and a Research Assistant in the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), has received a lot of press in the past few days for “SpiderSense,” a prototype wearable suit that enables users to sense (without seeing) obstacles around them.

Like the comic book character Spider-Man whose skin tingles at approaching danger, SpiderSense augments human ability - it can potentially help a pedestrian “see” hidden dangers, help a fireman entering smoke-filled buildings, or help a visually impaired person navigate his environment. SpiderSense consists of sensor modules, strategically placed on the wearer’s body, and uses ultrasound to scan the environment for obstacles within 60 feet which it then translates into tactile signals that stimulate the wearer’s skin.

Mateevitsi authored the research paper “Sensing the environment through SpiderSense” with Brad Haggadone (UIC Communications Department), Jason Leigh and Robert Kenyon (UIC Computer Science, Electronic Visualization Laboratory), and Brian Kunzer (UIC Bioengineering, Neural Engineering Vision Laboratory), which will be presented March 7 at Augmented Human ’13: the 4th Augmented Human International Conference in Stuttgart, Germany.

News of SpiderSense was picked up by New Scientist magazine. Since its article came out, the news has since gone “viral,” with articles appearing in many places. Below is the list of publications as of 4/9/13:

“With student invention, not seeing is believing”
by Matt O’Connor, April 9, 2013

CBC Radio, Canada
Eyeopener podcast (scroll to 16:30 minutes)
March 28, 2013

The Globe and Mail, Canada
“Scientists (finally) build Spider-Man suit with ‘SpiderSense’”
by Wency Leung, March 24, 2013

Discovery Channel Canada
“Daily Planet” (Part 5, 1st episode)
by Dan Raskin, March 14, 2013

ACM TechNews
March 18, 2013
(pointer to Medill Reports Chicago article of March 13, 2013)

Medill Reports Chicago
“Superhero science: UIC students build ‘SpiderSense’ suit”
by Conner Forrest, March 13, 2013

“SpiderSense Suit Delivers Superhuman Perception”
by Sam Zenpus, March 11, 2013

Eva Wolfangel, Wissenschafts - und Reportagejournalistin (German freelance journalist website)
“Technik für die Sinne” - interview at the 4th Augmented Human International Conference in Stuttgart, Germany
Eva Wolfangel, March 11, 2013

Stuttgarter Zeitung (German newspaper)
“Technik für die Sinne” - interview at the 4th Augmented Human International Conference in Stuttgart, Germany
Eva Wolfangel, March 10, 2013

RuptlyTV (German TV)
March 7, 2013
“Germany: Spider Sense augmentation lets you react like Spiderman”

“Spidey Sense Suit To Make You Like Spiderman?”
by Samantha Schacher, et. al., March 4, 2013

“Feel like Spidey in a real-life spider-sense suit”
by Leslie Katz, February 27, 2013

“Spider-Man Physics: How Real Is the Superhero?”
by Nadia Drake, February 26, 2013

First Bell, prepared by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
February 26, 2013

The Verge
“SpiderSense ultrasound suit gives wearers a sixth sense”
by Louis Goddard, February 23, 2013

New York Daily News
“Scientists create ‘Spider-Man’ suit that gives wearers superhero’s ‘spider sense’”
by Michael Walsh, February 23, 2013

“Real-life Spidey Sense suit tingles when objects get close”
by Lauren Davis, February 23, 2013

“You Can Be a Real Superhero With This Crazy Spider-Sense Robot Suit”
by Eric Limer, February 23, 2013

“This Suit Gives You A Real Life Spider-Sense”
by Alex Knapp, February 23, 2013

“Researcher makes a real-life ‘Spidey Sense’ suit”
Reprinted from Discovery Communications, February 22, 2013

MailOnine (DailyMail, U.K.)
“The suit that gives you ‘Spidey Sense’ just like Spider-Man by tingling when there is impending danger”
by Damien Gayle, February 22, 2013

“SpiderSense ultrasonic radar suit lets you know when danger is near”
by Daniel Cooper, February 22, 2013

Discovery Communications
“Body Suit Gives You Real-Life ‘Spidey Sense’”
by Nic Halverson, February 22, 2013

New Scientist
“Spidey-sense suit tingles when someone gets too close”
by Hal Hodson, February 22, 2013

In addition, SpiderSense news was also tweeted by @Science to 450,000 followers on February 22. And, Mateevitsi was contacted by Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet science and technology program for an interview.

SpiderSense (previously called NinjaVision) is an outgrowth of the UIC Human Augmentics course that was developed and taught in Spring 2012 by Jason Leigh and Robert Kenyon. The course is again offered this semester. Human Augmentics refers to a new interdisciplinary field of study aimed at the research and development of technologies to expand the capabilities and characteristics of humans.

For information:
Spring 2013 course syllabus
Spring 2012 course