Citizens DO have super tech. Even in the real world, lots of consumer devices ARE super tech-- with the attached 10-30 year delay of making them suitable for consumers. But perhaps I should introduce myself.
Hello, I'm an embedded systems engineer who makes somewhat-advanced military prototypes. From your point of view, you can think of me as a crude approximation of Tony Stark with a lot less money and no degree.
There is a reason I do not sell things to the mass market (even though you would be quite surprised how few export controls actually impact my work).
I have, in fact, worked on a number of commercial applications, including products intended for end users. The three things that will put you out of business when doing mass-market consumer products are (1) returns, (2) support costs, and (3) product liability. This obviously assumes you are at least obtaining volumes and margins that yield a meaningful profit.
The number of people who return things that are CLEARLY not going to "just work out of the box" because they do not, in fact, just work out of the box, would blow your mind. There is a reason wireless routers ship with awful security and miserable defaults: those defaults tend to work for the average consumer as soon as they plug the device in. (California actually had to pass a law to deal with this problem.) Note that this problem exists regardless of whether or not you are in competition with an "easier to use" product, but if you are, it gets much worse.
If, and only if, the device at least does SOMETHING that looks promising "out-of-the-box", then the consumer will attempt to get it to do either (A) whatever they had in mind, if it was actually bought to solve a problem, or (B) something interesting, if they're a gadget fiend (or received it as a gift). At this point, things go wrong, and the consumer goes looking for support.
In the world of contracting, you have a direct and ongoing relationship with the manufacturer. More often than not, you can literally call somebody's cell phone. (The end user in the field calls their CO or manager, but somewhere in that chain, somebody calls the contractor.) You get an engineer quickly, and if something is REALLY hard to use, you stand a very good chance of getting it changed.
For obvious reasons, this doesn't happen in consumer devices. You can't give 40,000 people your cell number, and you also probably can't even afford to hire more than a handful of people for phone support-- and they'll probably be reading from a very limited flowchart. One need only look at the huge number of unofficial, third-party bulletin board systems users use to try and figure out how to make their routers, etc., do what they want. The idea of the pleading traffic one might see on the Frosty Fingerz Freeze-Ray Users Group subreddit is pretty amusing, but honestly, that's probably what you would get.
Finally, product liability. First, let's start with regulatory liability.
Most of the interesting super tech is a lot like interesting "professional" tech. It is an open secret that a lot of the world's "professional" technical gear can be used to bypass lots and lots of regulatory limits. As a real-world example, take the humble 1 watt 2.4GHz linear amplifier. This device, which is about half the size of a small coin, strongly amplifies incoming and outgoing wireless signals. It is inexpensive, reasonably robust, and easy to use.
You absolutely MAY NOT use one as Joe Random, Private Citizen.
The reason for this is that power levels in that frequency range are heavily regulated by government agencies (for example, in the United States, the FCC), and for a very good reason: when consumers can't figure out what's wrong with a wireless system, we have A LOT of data that proves the first thing they try to do is jack up the power. This is, in fact, rarely what's wrong, and taking this approach steps all over everybody else on the same band. That, in turn, allows a single user to significantly degrade a shared resource for everybody else.
If the relevant regulatory agency decides that your device has a significant incidence of misuse, they can yank your license, or demand that you mitigate and/or prevent that misuse through technical means. Along the way, they are likely to give you a Very Large Fine, just to make sure you can't comfortably use a chair for a while.
Now, let's look at the other kind of liability that's likely to come up: personal injury and property damage.
Remember Lawn Darts? You cannot buy a real set of Lawn Darts in the United States or Canada. They have been banned, un-banned, and re-banned because they are extremely attractive to, and extremely dangerous to, children. They have caused many thousands of accidents severe enough to require emergency medical services, and unlike most sports equipment, the average accident involving them tends to result in a serious injury.
And this is a static object with no moving parts, energy output, or active logic. It's basically just a sharp rock with fins.
If you made the Frosty Fingerz Freeze Ray in the form factor of, say, a Super-Soaker-- that is, a compact, lightweight, somewhat gun-like device-- every child on the planet would spend weeks figuring out how to defeat whatever safety interlocks you put on it. In the process of doing this, they are going to freeze their own eyeballs off, and each and every one of those is going to cause an immediate extinction-level lawsuit.
Of course, that assumes the device even has safety interlocks, and I have an example for you here, as well: the lithium polymer battery.
Lithium polymer batteries have been around longer than you probably think-- but not, initially, for consumers. Remember those occasional battery explosions or fires on aircraft? Those were originally not so occasional. However, they only happened in limited market usage, where people were somewhat aware that they needed careful handling.
To make them safe for the commercial market, the modern lithium polymer battery pack includes a surprising amount of electronics right in the battery, including:
- temperature monitoring
- current monitoring
- over-current cutoff (both load and charge)
- short-circuit protection
- thermal fuses
- reverse-polarity protection (kapow!)
All of this took a while to work out, and initially, significantly raised costs.
Additionally, consumers demanded a larger number of charge cycles than the original offerings supplied. To some degree, the amount of available current and capacity is decreased to provide this extended device life. So, there was a significant delay between what you could get in the lab-- or out to the military-- and what you could get in your phone.
But honestly, you're using the best example of private super tech right now: a computer or smartphone. These devices combine technologies that were initially only available to people with significant resources, and each supporting technology, let alone the combined devices, required advanced training and knowledge to safely operate them.
As an example, quite a few early computers would blow literal, physical fuses if you divided by zero. It took decades to get your laptop, but you can divide by zero all day long and not smell smoke.
Finally, even in the real world, some technologies are just never going to be safe enough for private citizens to have direct control over, even if they can "use" them. Consider the flying car. Every flying car is a potential kinetic energy weapon, and if you have a lot of them, you have to ensure they don't slam into each other. Those two things virtually guarantee that, even if you do have flying cars, citizens aren't going to be flying them manually.
I'll leave you with one last thought. Visualize this billboard:
"Have YOU been injured by super tech? YOU may be entitled to TRIPLE DAMAGES!"
...and tell me who's going to make that gadget. At the very least, it would have to have a lobby the size of the NRA and the firearms industry-- which is what I would encourage you to create a parallel for, if you intend to actually add super tech to the consumer market in your works.