Batman-Inspired Wearable Coronavirus Protection Shield Aims to Kill the Virus Using Ultraviolet Rays

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the globe, one Chinese architect has come up with a solution to help battle the outbreak—a giant Batman-inspired wearable shield that claims to protect its wearers from the virus by sterilizing itself using ultraviolet (UV) rays.

The deadly virus, which was first identified in Wuhan city in the Hubei province of China, has infected 91,000 people, more than 80,000 of whom are reported to be in China. There have been 3,131 deaths reported, 2,835 of which were reported in China, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Currently, the virus is believed to be transmitted through respiratory droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces.

Designed by a group of architects led by Sun Dayong, co-founder of the Beijing-based Penda architectural firm, the proposed "Be a Bat Man" suit is a "wearable space device that can effectively isolate us outdoors to ensure safety," according to a post on the official Instagram account of the firm.

"The ultraviolet radiation network on the surface of the device can heat up to sterilize the surrounding environment, turning contact a way to kill, rather than spread, the virus. The device is also foldable, ready to open automatically when we need to contact with the outside world," the post explains.

As its name implies, the spacesuit-style device is inspired by the Batman superhero character and was also designed using bats as a prototype.

"The design follows the bionic design principle, taking bats as the prototype. When we were little, we all dreamed to be a Batman, a hero who fights evil and save the world. Perhaps that dream is coming true today," the firm says on Instagram.

The shield would be made with carbon fiber shaped like bat wings and a polyvinyl film that would allow the device to stretch like the membrane of a bat's wing, Dezeen reports.

Worn like a backpack, the wires placed inside this plastic film would be designed to reach a temperature high enough to kill any pathogens on them, which would establish a sterile surrounding environment for the wearer.

"The coronavirus will be killed by temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius," Sun told Dezeen.

"The PVC film cover is like our car windshields—here are heater wire in between the glass for heat the ice and snow in the winter," he explained.

"But sure we still need to do [a] lot of work with engineers for the real production," he added.

Sun also proposes the device could be modified with Google Glass technology (which offers a hands-free optical screen worn like glasses) to be used as a "unique private mobile space for people" once the virus outbreak has subsided, he told Dezeen.

Sun is keen to find a developer for his design and is reportedly willing to offer his design services for free.

Wuhan China coronavirus patients March 2020
Patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus wait to be transferred from Wuhan No.5 Hospital to Leishenshan Hospital, the newly-built hospital for the COVID-19 coronavirus patients, in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 3, 2020. Getty Images

Should "Be a Bat Man" come to fruition before the outbreak dies down, it could be the next coronavirus protective equipment people latch onto, at least in America, where fears over the coronavirus has caused a wave of panic-buying. Various supplies, including masks, have reportedly sold out at major retailers including Costco, Target, Walmart and Home Depot.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus as of March 3.

coronavirus, covid-19, cases, map, world
A Statista graphic shows the spread of the new coronavirus around the world as of early March 3, according to Johns Hopkins University. Statista