Tony Stark is tinkering around in his garage, making himself that bit more cybernetic. He’s been up for 72 hours and even J.A.R.V.I.S. is sure that’s too long. But it’s fine because Tony is about to unleash the next iteration of Iron Man upon the ever faithful droids. The needle is put down and Tony psyches up the computerised intelligences in the room. And then it all goes horribly wrong.
Please be aware that beyond this point there will be minor spoilers for Iron Man 3.
Rather than the new armour functioning as intended it all goes hilariously wrong and continues to pull off several gags over the course of the film based around its questionable reliability. The presence of technology has been highly visible in all of the recent Marvel films revolving around The Avengers/S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline. And of course the Iron Man films have been pretty darn tech heavy due to the nature of the character. Yet the technology concepts in the real world, however, that this suit embodies are ones that numerous big corporations are currently staking substantial sums of money on, hoping to get it all to work and to get consumers and other corporations to buy into it.
And yes, I was genuinely considering how the film embody all this while I watched twice through in less than a week.
In Tony’s Mark 42 armour you’ll find several areas of technology currently working their way into normality. No, not the implants (though there’s a lot of research going on into that already), but the manner in which this particular suit operates. This is the first suit Tony has built which heavily embodies the concept of “the internet of things”. Here I’m talking about the current commercial thinking behind the internet of things, which emphasises people and things (from smartphones to cars to fridges and their individual parts) being connected through an electronic network such as the internet. Even medical equipment is already becoming part of the internet of things.
Back to Iron Man 3.
Tony is literally connected to his new suit, but this new suit is connected to every single piece of itself in a network like manner. Sure, the previous suits, as a whole had connections to communications networks, but this is the first time where pieces of the suit have been individually connected. The internet of things as it is evolving in our world will see structures on a component by component level connected to the internet/overall network structures. This is mainly possible through various contactless technologies, but also the existence of IPv6 which enables almost anything to have its own address on the internet.
Of course many are wondering whether the suit as a whole is possible, but many of the individual technologies within are actually in development in our world. The display inside the Iron Man suit or the remote presence headset is reminiscent of Google Glass and headsets that can read our minds, for instance. And I’ve already talked about the connectedness of it all. I don’t really care whether we end up with wrist mounted repulsors any time soon – but a lot of the cybernetic like tech in the film are current and future tech.
Ah, but what about Extremis? The ability to reprogramme human structures to be whatever we want them to be? Obviously genetic modification is something that’s been heavily researched for sometime, as has the ability of stem cells to be rewritten and re-purposed. But some central control centre in the brain? That’s probably where the science in this film ends and the fiction starts.
Now, if you’ll excuse me – I need to go and build myself some wrist mounted repulsors.