Even before Tony Stark, billionaire technology genius, revealed that he was Iron Man in 2008, others were trying to build augmented fighting suits. Now that Stark has shown that Iron Man technology was within the reach of homebrew builders, work has started on the first open-source augmented fighting suits.
This is, of course, work that only the most advanced homebrew inventors will want to try. As the failures of Armand Hammer, Ivan Vanko, and Microsoft with Armor 8 have shown, it's not easy to build your own armor (BYOA).
Still, with promising work with the integration of Google Glass, the Parallela supercomputer board, and Raspberry Pi, the first steps to Linux-powered fighting armor suits are being taken. It's rumored that Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, is working on a Iron Penguin, a powered diving suit, to go with his Subsuface diving log program.
Of course, not everyone likes the idea of open-sourced armor. ZDNet writer Jason Perlow worried that such suits could be hacked for evil. As he said of Google Glass: "'Evil Glass' may include all the software necessary to turn a 14-year-old into a walking stealth surveillance device that would have been the envy of the Mossad or China's Ministry of State Security." Now imagine what that same 14-year old could do with repulser rays and rockets.
It may be a while yet before armored penguin-suited developers are patrolling the skies of Silicon Valley. Two major technology problems remain to be solved.
First, power sufficient to enable such suits for more than a few seconds still require Stark Industry proprietary arc reactor technology. While some have suggested that the Tesseract, aka the Cosmic Cube, could be reverse-engineered for a power source, it's known that the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD) discourages any such research.
In addition, no current publicly available artificial intelligence (AI) technology can match with Stark's Just A Rather Very Intelligent System (JARVIS), which is required for wear and run such suits. Still, open-source developers have shown that they're up to any challenge, and we soon hope to see the first Linux-enabled Iron Penguin kits.
With a tip of the hat to Jillian Scharr, whose story on how real-world media would cover Tony Stark/Iron Man inspired this piece.