Technology 3 min read

3 Futuristic Armor Designs Straight Out of Science Fiction

The military, startups, and universities are working on futuristic armor designs to address specific protection challenges

Image via Lockheed Martin

Image via Lockheed Martin

Body armor technologies and materials are improving to enable high ballistic protection fits with low bulk and mass, more flexibility, and functionality.

As ballistic threats go, soft and hard body armors can provide relative protection to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and civilians alike.

Below are three types of futuristic armor that address specific needs and uses

#1 Shear Thickening Technology: Liquid Body Armor

While very efficient during situations they were designed for, conventional body armors that soldiers wear on the battleground are too heavy.

For many years, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have been exploring shear thickening technology to develop lighter forms of ballistic protection.

Shear thickening fluid is a class known as non-Newtonian liquids that behave like liquids but whose viscosity increases almost instantly in response to shear stress.

When applied to a soldiers’ protective vest, the liquid flows with movement but when hit by pointed weapons or projectiles, it transitions to a rigid state.

Other than its application to ballistic vests, ARL wants to treat the pants and sleeves of soldier uniforms with shear thickening fluid.

#2 Fashionable Bullet-Proof Clothes

We’re still far from full-body exosuits like Iron Man’s, and not everybody would be game to don such tactical suits and walk down the street.

Some companies are developing protective body armors that look just like normal fashionable clothing for covert needs, and not only for undercover operatives.

Miguel Caballero has shot hundreds of people wearing bulletproof garments made by his company.

Even magician and endurance artist David Blaine had a hard time relaxing during the close-range bullet firing.

Another company that designs bulletproof clothing is BulletBlocker, based in Massachusetts, and which was founded by a father who was worried for the safety of his children in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. But, at $800 a vest, BulletBlocker’s fashionable items don’t come cheap.

#3 HULC, Body Armor Against Heavy Loads

The Human Universal Load Carrier, or HULC, isn’t a ballistic vest, it’s a futuristic armor in the sense it was designed to protect from load injuries.

Besides all their usual protective gear and the heavy packs they have to carry, soldiers can find themselves in a situation where they have to do some heavy lifting.

HULC is a hydraulically-powered exoskeleton suit that enables soldiers to carry heavy loads, up to 200lb, with the least effort from their body.

By shifting the load-strain to the ground via the shoes, the HULC suit reduces injuries that could affect soldiers’ musculature and bones.

HULC was first designed in 2008 by a startup then, following a licensing agreement, Lockheed Martin is developing the exosuit.

Futuristic armor is certainly on the rise, but I don’t think it’s something we’ll be wearing on a daily basis any time soon. Smartwear, however, may be something that the average person can get a little more excited about.

Read More: Techwear & Adaptive Clothing: the Future of Fashion

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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