The suit, called SpiderSense and built by Victor Mateevitsi of the University of Illinois in Chicago has small robotic arms packaged in modules with microphones that send out and pick up ultrasonic reflections from objects. When the ultrasound detects someone moving closer to the microphone, the arms respond by exerting a growing pressure on the body. Seven of these modules are distributed across the suit to give the wearer as near to 360 degree ultrasound coverage as possible.

“When someone is punching Spider-Man, he feels the sensation and can avoid it. Our suit is the same concept,” says Mateevitsi. SpiderSense could help blind people to find their way more easily, he says.