Since time immemorial, mankind has striven to emulate nature's most powerful of beasts. This is probably because, without all our stabby/burny/shooty tools, Homo sapiens tend to come in somewhere between groundhogs and an overripe avocado in terms of squishy defenselessness. And though we've evolved to where the only times we tend to encounter these animals is when David Attenborough is narrating something on a cable network, the desire to be like them has not diminished in the slightest.
Thankfully, modern technology is now available that allows us to experience what it's really like to be a powerful carnivore, a swift marsupial, or a wall-crawling insect. And maybe we'll someday find a way to do those things without looking like an escaped mental patient. But until that day comes, I guess we'll have to make do with ...
#6. A Helmet That Gives You Creature Vision
Who among us hasn't nurtured the dream of someday being able to look through the eyes of a giraffe, chameleon, or hammerhead shark? Nobody, then? Really? Me neither. But apparently, those gooftastic helmets up there let you do just that.
Then there's this one, which allows you to see the world as the inbred cousin the Cylons don't like to talk about.
The brainchild of design artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connelly, these "meta-perceptual" helmets are as simple in terms of design as they are complicated to explain when you're caught wearing one in a public restroom. By "placing peep-holes in the right places, then using mirrors to beam the light straight into your eyeballs," they allow one the opportunity to see the world in "hyper-stereo and wide peripheral visions," just like some of our differently-eyeballed animal friends. There's even one that simulates horse vision, which seems perfect for those with a My Little Pony / Japanese robot anime / Eyes Wide Shut triple combo fetish.
It's also a great way for making bathroom attendants even more unsettling than normal.
If you can get through all the artsy-fartsy jibberjab on their website:
Wearing the helmets, the visitor becomes a hybrid creature himself, part human, part machine, part animal, but also: part work of art. A work of art that challenges those who contemplate the helmet -- from the inside or from the outside -- to take a new perspective on the world.
The creators do eventually explain their motives and goals. They also describe the project (by way of yet more horn-rimmed, turtleneck-friendly exposition) as "the ultimate chapter in our exploration of what we call 'observer participation,' a notion that the artwork is only brought to life by the act of looking." As opposed to all those museums that make you fumble around and fondle statues in the dark, I guess.
Though the shininess may instigate a bear mauling, at least they'll keep most of the head intact for cryogenic purposes.
So far, these helmets have only been making the rounds of European museums. But they should be coming to the U.S. at some point in the not-too-distant future, just in case you'd like to know what it's like to walk around wearing a colander that's been welded to a couple of periscopes on your head. I just hope they can resist the urge to sacrifice their artistic integrity when someone from Disney shows up with a sackload of cash and a plan to use their inventions as part of a gritty new Animal Kingdom Safari reboot.
An interactive "Cecil the Lion's Zany Poaching Adventure" ride shouldn't be all that shocking, considering these are the same people who gave us Bambi.
#5. The Man Who Would Be Goat
Thomas Thwaites of the U.K. desired desperately to know what life would be like if he were a goat, for reasons which I'm almost positive weren't sexual in nature. So he came up with some prosthetic, ungulate-themed arms and legs, and even planned to have a fake stomach constructed that would have allowed him to eat grass. That last part of the plan fell through, unfortunately -- I'm guessing after he was unable to find any contractors who didn't immediately shoo his silly ass out of the office. Still, with enough jerry-rigged gear to become sufficiently goatlike, he proceeded to spend days as part of a herd, while someone apparently followed him around to take pictures as he frolicked up and down the verdant slopes.
"Pssst. You're embarrassing all of us."
So why did Thwaites do this? Well, as a self-described designer "of the speculative sort" (and proponent of transhumanism), he wanted to show that technology, in addition to potentially allowing humans to one day evolve into higher life forms, might also be used to "de-evolve" into something "calmer and simpler." Thwaites initially wanted to become an elephant for the project, but gave up on that idea after the mechanics involved in pulling something like that off proved a bit too problematic. And after visiting a shaman who told him "you're an idiot." So it was the ruminant life for him, and after somehow managing to both convince a zoologist to help him design the necessary apparatus and receive grant funding, it was off to the Swiss Alps for three days of ... doing whatever the fuck goats do. Eating, shitting, and screaming, presumably.
Seen here, demonstrating his dedication to authenticity by eating his own shirt.
Things were a little tougher than he imagined, as the weather conditions and the effort involved in walking around like the world's saddest Cirque du Soleil performer took their toll on his physical well-being. There was also the matter of the goats themselves, who saw him as an interloper and probably held him in a similar regard as that aforementioned shaman. But after putting in the necessary hours, Thwaites learned enough goat etiquette to eventually be accepted among them, achieving his goal and proving his original thesis: "I guess [some people's] desires aren't necessarily to become super intelligent."
Either that or the goats just realized that this guy would definitely give them a good chance of getting away when the wolves show up.
#4. Shoes That Let You Run Like A Beast
After watching a nature documentary on kangaroos at the age of 12, Englishman Keahi Seymour was inspired. Not like most children, whose inspiration would be to get that bullshit off the screen ASAP and switch the channel over to some cartoons -- he wanted nothing more than to bound around like the hoppiest marsupial in the Outback. And by crikey, he went and did it. Just look at this madness:
It was so much like something a crazy person would do on a drunken dare that Australia made him an honorary citizen.
Noting the fact that 'roos use their Achilles tendons like springs, Seymour believed he could replicate that bounciness paradigm in a shoe. Later, he expanded his scope to include the anatomical advantages of other species, like cheetahs and ostriches, then developed his first prototype out of "old Rollerblade boots, steel tubing, and bungee cords." While it seems like Reebok missed a great opportunity here to scoop this guy up and make him "vice president in charge of crazy bullshit" or something, it nonetheless worked out just fine. And that's because after five years and 200 revisions, Seymour finally came up with what he now calls the "bionic boot": a shoe which allows the wearer to run at speeds of 25 mph and "feel like a superhuman" in the process.
Seymour isn't done tinkering with his design, and says that he has another prototype in the works that will increase the top speed to 40 mph, which is juuust shy of an actual kangaroo's abilities. His dream is to eventually make it so that people can sproing about the landscape at a sustained 70 mph, which would be enough to thoroughly embarrass a cheetah. And that certainly makes sense, since at least cheetah-based superheroes/supervillains tend to be a little easier on the eyes.
Now he just needs to need to find a way to incorporate gigantic tits and a waist the size of a number 2 pencil.
But does all that running around on the ground sound just too exhausting? Well, maybe you'd rather take to the skies instead, with ...