Necessity is the mother of all inventions, as the old adage goes, but Science-Fiction can inspire some to create just for the hell of it. A rich source of such inspiration comes from Marvel and DC whose world-famous superheroes have a wide range of impressive abilities and superhero technology to choose from.
Amateur and military inventors alike are tinkering away the world over to bring some of this superhero technology into the real world with various levels of success. These 12 are great examples of superhero tech that has actually been invented.
1. Wolverine's claws are (sort of) a thing now
Although Wolverine's superhero power is his accelerated regenerative ability, everyone knows him by his super-strong adamantium skeleton and retractable claws. Because of this, he has always been one of the more badass superheroes.
But one ingenious British Inventer, Colin Furze has actually managed to build a working set of retractable metal claws. They are made from a metal alloy, sadly not Adamantium, and are 30.5 cm long.
They are controlled using a button and are very sharp indeed. Now all he needs to do is integrate them into his flesh and blood wrists and replace his pathetic organic skeleton!
2. The military has developed a real "Iron Man" suit
Iron Man's suit is one of the most iconic pieces of superhero tech around. It was once the preserve of science fiction but might be closer to fruition than previously thought.
Exoskeleton tech is currently in development by many militaries but the so-called "Iron Man" is blurring the lines between fiction and reality. It provides its wearers with multiple enhanced abilities from basic mobility to increased strength.
For example, it can translate a light punch from the user's muscles to punch through thick wooden planks, or of course, an enemy combatant.
It can also be used for logistical duties like moving very heavy munitions, supplies, and other equipment. Now all they need to do is add some rocket boosters and clad it in sweet Red and Yellow armor plating!
3. Someone has actually made Spiderman's gloves
Spider-Man, at least in the original Stan Lee incarnation, is famed for his "Spider-Sense", superhuman abilities and, of course, his ability to scale any surface. Whilst in the comic books this is an innate ability some researchers have been able to mimic it.
The best part is you don't need to expose yourself to radioactive spiders to use it. Bonus!
These researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst looked to nature rather than digging through Spider-Man comics to develop their amazing superhero tech. By studying the Gecko's ability to adhere to many surfaces they managed to develop a material capable of holding a heavy load on vertical or overhanging surfaces.
It works so well that a small piece of the material (called Geckskin), about the size of an index card, can support 700 pounds of force on a piece of glass.
4. Batman's suit could be a real thing very soon
Whilst the real "Iron Man" suit is impressive enough, this company is developing a Batmanesque real-life piece of superhero tech.
Called Lorica Mark 2 this suit of armor has been developed by an Australian-based company Chiron Global. It's made from carbon-fiber composites, various other polymers, and some sensors and other technology.
"They also contain a range of advanced electronics including a variety of force measurement sensors, a competitor POV camera and a two-way microphone," said UWM CEO David Pysden to SolidSmack. "We intend to also include a GPS (for team events) and biometric sensors (to monitor heart rate, body temperature, and other factors)."
But the suit has been developed initially for use by martial artists to be able to go 'hell for leather' on each other with real weapons rather than fighting crime. At the moment that is.
5. Invisibility cloaks are almost here
Various superheroes have been granted this ability over the years with most using some form of advanced tech to achieve it. With the potential for such technology in real life, it's no surprise various inventors and organizations have attempted to achieve it over the years.
One fun example is "active camouflage" which was showcased by Mercedes-Benz to promote their, then, new F-Cell car. This promotional stunt used a LED-impregnated fabric with a camera on the opposite side of the intended surface.
The fabric was able to provide near the real-time projection of the background behind the cloak onto the front of it to simulate the car being invisible. Although it wasn't completely cloaked it was a good proof-of-concept for the technology.
Just how far military's around the world have gotten to proper cloaking devices/fabrics is anyone's guess - after all, you would never see it.
6. Here's another real-life "Iron Man" suit
Whilst the military "Iron Man" exoskeleton is impressive it can't actually fly. This is where this chap's "Iron Man" suit comes into its own.
The Daedalus Jet Engine Suit, developed by Richard Browning, really does give the wearer the power of personalized flight. Richard is an oil trader turned inventor who spent 18 months building the suit in his garage.
The suit is powered by three sets of kerosene-fueled micro-turbine engines (six in total) with two on each arm and two strapped to the back of the suit. The suit itself is made of a lightweight exoskeleton that can also provide stability in flight and ultra-light snakebite-resistant boots to provide protection from the engines' heat exhaust.
Frankly, this is a fantastic effort and one sure to get every want to be superhero's juices flowing.
7. Yes here's one of Iron Man's gadgets again
As you can see Iron Man is a rich source of inspiration for budding superhero engineers around the world. This one attempts to replicate Iron Man's wrist-mounted retractable rocket launcher.
Called the "Iron Man Gauntlet" it faithfully attempts to create this awesome superhero tech. It was developed by Patrick Priebe who has purposefully left the actual finer details of his design intentionally vague.
He has indicated that it is activated via a button hidden in the hand part of the glove which opens and closes the mini-missile launcher. It even comes equipped with a hobby-style rocket that can actually be launched from the gauntlet.
It goes without saying that you shouldn't attempt this one at home. Whilst this won't put off some, we've fulfilled our legal responsibilities and wash out hands of the matter.
8. Here's another set of Wolverine Claws
Colin Furze's effort is famed the world over but it appears he's been upstaged by another want-to-be-superhero, Brian Kaminski.
Brian's claws are smaller than Furze's but are activated by flexing the wearer's muscles. Dubbed MyoWare Bionic Claws by the inventor they were designed as a promotional aid to his Kickstarter campaign for a new type of muscle sensor he used in his Wolverine Claw setup.
But it gets better. Brian has made some real-life superhero tech before.
He previously teamed up with Limbitless Solutions to design an Iron Man (yes we know) themed bionic limb for a seven-year-old amputee. This limb was even presented to him by Robert Downey Junior.
9. This cosplay Batman suit is impressive
Designed by special creature effects artist Julian Checkley recently unveiled this impressive mock piece of superhero tech. It looks awesome and even comes equipped with 23 fully functional gadgets - making it a World Record Holder.
Her inspiration was the Batman suit from Batman: Arkham Origins video game and it looks like the real deal.
But anything that's too good to be true usually is and this is the case with this suit. It's effectively just a fancy costume and won't allow you to survive jumps of buildings are deflect real bullets. It was designed in sections and 3D printed uring urethane rubber and painted and detailed post-print.
It does, however, come equipped with smoke bombs, a grapnel gun, GPS and respirator. Checkley also employed the services of an electrical engineer to integrate a 2kW EMP stun gun, gauntlet-mounted fireball shooter, built-in video displays, and ultra-sonic anti-dog device.
10. This chap might just be a real-life Human Torch, perhaps
If you've ever wanted to shoot fireballs out of your hand, or just summon flames on demand, this chap has got you covered. The bonus is this tech could also be used to recreate your fantasies of becoming an all-powerful Streetfighter like Ryu with his Hadoken attack.
The Pyro Mini Fireshooter has been developed that straps onto your wrist and instantly allows you to spurt actual fire at a target of your choosing. Whilst actually using this in real life is likely to land you in jail it'll be a great story to tell later in life.
The device is, by all accounts, rechargeable and is also easily detachable. It can even be controlled remotely if you want to avoid being caught by the Feds.
11. U.S. Military is working on Wolverine-inspired healing
If the sets of claws weren't impressive enough, the U.S. Military is working on human accelerated healing. The research program, called ElectRX, hopes to develop tiny implants that could help humans heal at superhero speeds.
These miny implants would work continuously to monitor a person's physical condition and provide an electrical stimulus to linked systems when needed. This will effectively allow for highly accurate targeting of treatment of things like chronic inflammatory conditions from rheumatoid arthritis to some bowel diseases.
Of course, this doesn't mean implanted individuals will be able to live forever or survive mortal wounds but its an interesting development.
12. Telekinesis could be a thing very soon
OK this one is a little bit disingenuous but researchers are working on methods of remote-control of drones using brain-computer interface tech, One such team can be found at the University of Minnesota that allows users to remote-control quadcopter drones with their thoughts.
The controller wears a specially designed cap with electrodes that transmit the tiny electrical signals to a computer. Specialist software then converts the electrical signals into instructions to move the drone remotely.
Volunteers must first adapt to this strange method of control but can become adept enough to navigate the drone through an obstacle course. Amazing stuff.