Okay, so we're probably a long time away from developing a power source like the one powering Tony Stark's armor in "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2," but according to recent reports, we might be closer than you think to developing a version of "smart" armor like the one protecting Iron Man and War Machine.
According to Discovery News, scientists at a U.S. miltary facility in Michigan are currently researching applications for "piezoelectric" armor that can not only detect the size of bullets shot at it, but also identify the damage inflicted and generate small amounts of electricity in response. All of this could potentially allow for a similar heads-up display of the armor's current level of damage, weak points and various other conditions Tony Stark is alerted to while wearing the Iron Man armor.
"As a kid, everyone played those video games that showed you how much armor you had left as a percentage bar," said John Wray, a contractor for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. "That's exactly what we're working on here and more."
Over at SciFi Scanner, they further the video-game comparison with a few more details, explaining, "As it works now, data about the armor's integrity shows up on a monitor and is color coded so it's easy to understand: Green means you're good to go, black points out damage and red spots are where you've been hit."
While the science of the piezoelectric armor gets pretty involved, the basic premise is that the materials used in the armor produce a small amount of electricity when bent, but also bend when exposed to electricity. Two sensors are attached to each piece of armor, with one generating a low amount of electricity that runs through the armor into the other sensor.
When the armor is damaged, some of that electrical current isn't received at the second sensor, and a computer determines the level of damage indicated by that change in voltage.
Phew! Got all that?
In the end, this just means we're one step closer to jet-boots — and that's a discovery I think we can all agree needs to happen ASAP.
Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!