Readers of Uglies will know all about my so-called “bungee jackets.” Basically, they’re a futuristic way of escaping a burning building in a magnetic levitation harness. Of course, my tricky uglies and drunken pretties tend to put bungee jackets to much more amusing uses.
Well, it wouldn’t be the future if someone wasn’t already working on it. Howard Price of the Trades (which gave Uglies a great review for my birthday) pointed me to this article in the Economist. It’s about a backpack-based inflatable device that allows you to jump safely from a building and bounce to a halt.
The Lavochkin Association in Moscow demonstrated this device (using a 1/6-scale model) at the Paris Air Show in mid-June. They don’t have a working prototype, but the overall concept seems sound, or at least better than burning to death. (Or jumping with, say, nothing.)
You leap with the backpack on, pulling the cord, and the outer rim inflates as you fall. The aerodynamic shape of the device turns the point downward (putting you on the top) and slows your fall way down. Hopefully the pointy front end is soft enough to protect you from the ground, and any earlier jumpers from you.
The full-size version is six meters (20 feet) across, so imagine a flock of them coming down the street at you on a windy day!
Anyway, I want one. (After the testing. Lots and lots of testing.)