While primarily used to hide the identity of the wearer, the cowls and masks of the Bat Family also possess advanced tech, mimicking a bat's natural abilities through starlite lenses to see in utter darkness; aural-electronics to discern the faintest whispers; and inertial navigators and echolocation to assist in navigation and balance.
The cowl of Batman also features additional security defense mechanisms that deploy deterrents against unsanctioned removal of the cowl; such as electric shock and stun gas. In order to keep the wearer’s identity secret the cowl is even lined with lead to prevent x-ray sight.
Bat Family cowls and masks contain internal computers that are linked directly to the Batmobile and/or Batcave computers. Through the computer, information such as medical records, building layouts and maps can be accessed and brought to eyesight through the cowl's lenses.
The starlight lenses themselves allow the wearer to see in infrared vision (heat sensors), night vision, and ultraviolet vision. The cowls and masks also contain audio processors and, in Batman's case, a high gain antenna for communication purposes and enables voice-command control over various equipment such as the Batmobiles.
Kevlar panels in the cowls provide protection over vulnerable skull areas against ballistics. The front of the skull and the sides of the temples also have small armour inserts to increase the effectiveness of skull strikes and protect from concussive blows. Batman's cowl is also shielded against various methods of mind control.
Donning the cowl is a symbolic gesture for Bruce Wayne as it reaffirms the promise he made on his parents' gaves to fight crime in all its forms.
The standard bat-cowl, such as the ones worn by Batman, Batgirl and Red Robin, are sewn in a single-piece memory-weave pattern, stretching over the wearer's head and returning to normal shape. When not worn, the cowl folds into a wallet-sized unit.
The domino masks of Bat Family members such as Robin, Nightwing and Blackbat are adhered to their faces using spirit gum.