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Top 10 Technologies that Could Make You a Superhero

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Did you know that science is making very real progress towards giving you super hearing, super strength, and some amazing comic book gadgets? Kick-Ass took nothing more than a high tolerance to pain and made himself into an everyday superhero. Imagine what an arsenal of the most cutting-edge technologies could make you! Welcome to, today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 technologies that could make you a superhero.

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Kick-Ass took nothing more than a high tolerance to pain and made himself into an everyday superhero. Imagine what an arsenal of the most cutting-edge technologies could make you! Welcome to, today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 technologies that could make you a superhero.

For this list, we’re looking at the most cutting edge technologies that have been developed at least somewhat beyond their theoretical stage, and have the potential to extend your abilities beyond normal human limits.

#10: Jetpacks and Rocket Belts

Superheroes fly thanks to machines, mutant wings, or inborn alien powers. Us Earth-bound suckers ain’t gonna sprout wings anytime soon, so machines are our best bet. Over 60 years ago engineers developed a nitrogen and hydrogen-powered rocket-belt. Today’s price tag? A cool US$125,000. But the maximum flight length of that model is about 20 seconds. You’ve also got hoverbikes, small electric helicopters and even a flying electric bicycle – all unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. But, hey, the first powered flight took place last century, so you never know...

#9: Brain Implants

Remember 1999, when all you had to do to be funny was say “I know kung-fu”? Soon, we all may know kung-fu. In 2014, the U.S. Military began developing implants that would be wired into soldiers’ brains. Private firms have joined the venture, aiming to build what they call “multifunction electro-optical-chemical neural sensor effectors.” We have no idea what that means, but it sure sounds futuristic! However, science still doesn’t understand how to decode the brain’s electrical impulses into actual information. But once they figure that out, downloading kung-fu programs doesn’t seem so far off.

#8: Self-Healing Materials

Fact: if you’re not Bruce Wayne, repairing your super suit is gonna bankrupt you. Unless your suit can repair itself. That’s the promise of self-healing materials. So far, these could be gels, coatings, epoxies or solid polymers. The solid materials are still rather new, and aren’t really on the market yet, but they’ve been proven to close themselves up again after being damaged by, say, a bullet. Granted, they aren’t stopping any bullets yet. So, don’t get shot, I guess.

#7: Bioengineered Enhanced Healing

If your crime fighting costume doesn’t heal super-fast, at least your body should. In 2015, researchers at the University of Arizona identified the “leader” cells that initiate the healing process. This should someday allow bioengineers to turn normal cells into leader cells, allowing them to heal nearby tissue.
Maybe you’ve been trying out some new jetpack prototype and burned your dumb ass. Well Mexican researchers have created a biodegradable membrane that cuts burn healing time in half! Add to that a newly discovered substance extracted from salamander skin, and you’ve got some quasi-superhero level healing powers.

#6: Vacuum-Assisted Climber

In 2012, a group of Utah engineering took 9 months to build this Personal Vacuum-Assisted Climber, or PVAC. They probably got the idea from this British kid who did it in 2 and a half weeks. Or from TV presenter Jem Stansfield who did it in 2009. Anyhow, the US Air Force gave the Utah gang $100,000 to make the thing lighter and quieter. If they succeed, this might be a useful addition to a superhero toolkit. But, one thing seems sadly certain either way: no one will give credit to Jem Stansfield.

#5: Bionic Ears

Unless you spill some mysterious chemical goop in your eyes – y’know, like Daredevil – you’re gonna need some badass machines to hear the unhearable. In 2014, the first cochlear implants were all over the news. These computerized bionic implants use electrodes to stimulate the hearing nerve. An even newer technology bypasses the hearing nerve and stimulates neurons directly at the brain stem. What’s more, researchers in Scotland developed advanced microphone technology inspired by the ears of insects. If a hearing implant could make use of all these technologies, it might just enable us to hear things blocks away like Daredevil can. Or ride a bike without eyes, like this guy does.

#4: Invisibility Cloaks

Every little kid, and every socially maladjusted adult, has dreamed of becoming invisible. Nobody has yet reached the holy grail of wearable cloaking gear, but some new science is slowly answering our prayers. Scientists are experimenting with synthetic composites called metamaterials that can bend ultraviolet waves around a very small object, making it invisible. They can even make microscopic thin coats of the stuff. One possibility is something like this scene from “Ghost Protocol,” only with hundreds of thousands of tiny screens and cameras on your body. Like a lot of the other facts on this list, this technology is a long way from market, but with several avenues of active research towards the same goal, we’ll be Sue Storming in no time.

#3: Lasers

Lasers exist. They’re a real thing. Problem is, weaponizing them would take an enormous amount of energy. So, handheld weapons are a definite no-go until aliens give us their battery technology or something. But, vehicles might be able to carry that power, so it might be possible for you to deck out your batmobile with a laser pretty soon. The Army has this aerodynamic-looking thing called the Active Denial System that can make a crowd’s skin crawl using signals similar to microwaves. Take that, peacemongers!

#2: Exoskeletons

This technology has so much superhero potential, it’s almost a cheat. Movies like “Elysium” and “Edge of Tomorrow” have clearly demonstrated the sort of super strength and onboard weapons capabilities that an exoskeleton can demonstrate. Already, people who have lost the use of their legs are strapping on exoskeletons and going for strolls. You better believe the military is creating their own. Leading military contractor Lockheed Martin already has a couple of models – one military and one for industrial applications. Ship manufacturer Daewoo has tested their models at their South Korean shipyards. They hope to get the assisted lifting capacity up to 250 pounds.

#1: Artificial Muscle System

If those engineers want to beef up their exoskeleton, they ought to add some fishing line. Polymer fishing line was recently used as the surprising key material in a new super-effective artificial muscle system. By twisting fishing line until it coils, and then applying heat or an electrical current to contract the line, they created artificial muscle fibers that are 100 times stronger than our own. And there’s published research that suggests implanting them into humans may not be far off. So stop hitting the gym, everybody: we’ll all be fishing line cyborgs soon enough.

What do you think of this list? Which of these technologies would you most like to use? For more cutting edge top 10s published every week, be sure to subscribe to

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