How Superheroes Use Embedded Devices

Lucius Fox staring at hundreds of screens that make up a single image

Hate to break it to you - but not all superheroes have superpowers. After all, they are still mere mortals. That doesn’t mean they aren’t stronger, faster, smarter, than your average Joe.  What differentiates these mortal superheroes from you and me is their use of technology. Some superheroes are your everyday mortals using super technology to gain the superhero edge.

Just like the technology in our common everyday lives, the technology used by superheroes is evolving at an amazing rate.  Look at Batman - he is just an ordinary privileged young man with a supercomputer. The Batcomputer is without a doubt, one of the most powerful supercomputers of its kind. Just like the progression of real-world technology, the fictional portrayal of the Batcomputer has evolved too. The machine began as a punch-card computer and more recently was portrayed as a quantum supercomputer. Take that one step further. Let’s talk about Iron Man’s computer, Jarvis. Again, Tony Stark, while brilliant, is a mere mortal; he has no superpowers, instead, he actually has what some would consider a serious physiological challenge. Tony Stark’s challenge is he must wear the Arc Reactor in his chest. This reactor powers a life-saving electromagnet to keep the loose shrapnel from entering vital organs and ending Tony’s life. That being said, Tony is a regular guy with (two) supercomputers, 1) his Arc Reactor and 2) J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), a highly advanced computerized A.I. developed by Tony, to manage almost everything, including his personal and professional lives, track his research and development and enable his flying suit.  See, even superheroes sometimes need a little help.

While these supercomputers are a wonderful asset, there are even smaller technologies that aid these heroes in their fight against evil - embedded devices.

How Embedded Devices Empower Superheroes

There is no way superheroes could save the world from evil with just one supercomputer; they need their handy gadgets to defeat those who try to oppose them. And what drives these gadgets - no other than embedded technology.  Embedded devices are smaller than general purpose computers so they are easy to carry in a utility belt, include in a flying suit or a multipurpose mobile phone. These embedded devices accomplish do some pretty impressive things. Let’s take a look at some of the embedded devices of superheroes that we would definitely want to get our hands on.

Embedded Devices Batman Uses

Since Bruce Wayne was not born with supernatural powers, he relied on technology to empower Batman and protect Gotham City. Of the all the superheroes who rely on embedded devices, Batman is the clear winner. This billionaire playboy has some of the most impressive devices in his ever-expanding utility belt.  While Batman has used countless embedded devices throughout his many incarnations, his use of the cellular phone sonar device, ear microphone, and his tracking devices are the most impressive in his arsenal.

Cell Phone Sonar Device

In The Dark Knight, Batman uses the embedded device in a cell phone to create a sonar beacon in order to see everyone within signal range. In addition, he is able to use a separate embedded system in his lenses to view the data the sonar beacon sends. And, when the movie is at its climax, Batman uses the sonar devices in everyone’s cell phone to target where The Joker is hiding. While the unauthorized use of other people’s personal devices and data may be a bit unethical, it does help save the day. That counts for something - right?

Ear Microphone

One of the most important tools used by Batman to spy on evildoers are the microphones hidden in his cowl.  His microphones are complex embedded systems able to amplify sounds and monitor both distant and quiet noises. In The Dark Knight Trilogy, the ear microphone allows Batman to hear through windows and walls. Without this embedded system Batman would be unable to hear anything through his cowl. The ear microphone gives him the ability to hear very clearly even through the dense material, in loud locations and during scenes of endless action.

Tracking Devices

The “Bat Tracker” is ubiquitous in every incarnation of Batman. It is a vital tool to help Batman keep tabs on the evildoers who threaten the city he has vowed to protect. The Bat Tracker gives Batman the ability to locate the hideouts of his enemies. The embedded tracking devices are able to connect with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and report location coordinates. Batman’s tracking devices are extraordinarily lightweight, so much so that he can attach one to the shoulder of a henchman without him even noticing. And let’s not discount the embedded system of the GPS that Batman uses to view where all of the tracking devices have traveled.

Bat Beacon

What is a Batman without the use of actual live bats? Batman uses this embedded Bat Beacon in Batman Begins when escaping from the Arkham Asylum and the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD). This embedded beacon emits a supersonic signal able to call all of the bats within the Gotham metropolitan area. The result, a mass influx of bats scrambling in the skies and disorienting anyone who may be closing in on Batman. This is the one device that may be convincing citizens of Gotham that Batman actually does have superhuman powers.

Embedded Devices within the Batmobile

The Batmobile is truly a legendary car. It has everything that Batman could possibly need in a form of transportation. However, one of the coolest features is its autopilot. The Batmobile is one of fiction’s greatest most diverse transportation vehicles. In order for it to master all of its amazing functions its, multiple embedded devices need to be synchronized and working in perfect tandem, all the time. The Batmobile uses radar, GPS, forward facing cameras, motion sensors, and an advanced braking system. (Flash forward to real-life; this sounds like the feature list of the Google self-driving car.) Let’s not forget the most thrilling feature - autopilot. (Is this life to imitate art?)

But it doesn’t take a superhero to use embedded devices to save the day. Every day people use embedded devices every day to save lives, and it isn’t just the privileged few who are using them: heart monitors, insulin pumps, automobile backup sensors, aeronautical navigation devices, cell phones and for some their automatic coffee maker. You name it, it probably has an embedded device. Look around, see what embedded device helped make your day just a little better, and thank your superhero engineer.

Click here (link to demo page) for more about how you can use embedded devices to save the day, or just make it a little bit better.


Embedded Devices Other Superheroes Use

Since many superheroes do have superhuman abilities, they do not need to rely on as much technology as Batman, however, they still rely on technology to accomplish their goals. These other superheroes use embedded devices that give them the ability to do some impressive things.

Green Arrow’s Electromagnetic Pulse Arrow

Since the Green Arrow does not really have any supernatural powers, he is similar to Batman in the fact that he needs to use technology to accomplish his goals. The Green Arrow does use very similar technology to Batman such as GPS trackers and microphones, however, some of the coolest pieces of technology that the Green Arrow uses are his Electromagnetic Pulse Arrows.

When the Green Arrow wants to disable electronic devices in a particular area, all he needs to do is to shoot his EMP arrow directly where it needs to go. Electromagnetic pulses create disturbances within the electromagnetic fields to disrupt or damage electronic devices. The embedded system attached to the arrow is able to emit the electromagnetic pulse.

Black Canary’s Canary Cry

Black Canary is well known for her Canary Cry. She is able to create ultrasonic vibrations that are able to break glass and incapacitate her enemies. While in most depictions of the Black Canary, she has a superhuman ability to scream at ultrasonic levels. However, in the CW series Arrow, Sara Lance’s “The Canary” does have an embedded device that is able to create the ultrasonic vibrations that create the same effect as other incarnations of the Black Canary’s Canary Cry.

The Avenger’s Radio System

The Avengers need to constantly be communicating in order to work together as a team. They would be able to do this through embedded devices. They have headsets that use radio transmissions so that each one can hear what the others are saying.  Many different superheroes use similar radio systems to communicate with the rest of their teams.

Embedded Devices in Everyday Life

We use embedded devices every day to accomplish everyday things. You may not even realize how many embedded devices you use every day since embedded devices are used across so many different industries. Even though they are used for everyday use, that doesn’t lessen how impressive they can be. While many of the embedded devices that we see superheroes use are extremely advanced, we use some pretty fantastic embedded devices such as drones, speakers, and other gadgets. Embedded devices can be programmed according to your needs. If you have a specific idea, you can program own embedded devices to complete your own secret missions.

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