DIY Invisibility Suits: Optical Camouflage Source Documents
Posted Aug 23, 2007
What follows is a collection of excerpts and source documentation for the curious mammal looking at DIY invisibility suit projects. Although there are doubtless several parallel "classified" research programs exploring optical camouflage, a great of innovation has been going on in the public domain -- and you can reap that harvest, dear reader. Anyone can keep up with DARPA, you just need to be dedicated.
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Start at Taichi Labs excellent website.
The most intriguing prototypes of optical camouflage yet have been created by the Tachi Lab at the University of Tokyo, under the supervision of professors Susumu Tachi, Masahiko Inami and Naoki Kawakami. Their prototype uses an external camera placed behind the cloaked object to record a scene, which it then transmits to a computer for image processing. The computer feeds the image into an external projector which projects the image onto a person wearing a special retroreflective coat. This can lead to different results depending on the quality of the camera, the projector, and the coat, but by the late nineties, convincing illusions were created. The downside is the large amount of external hardware required, along with the fact that the illusion is only convincing when viewed from a certain angle.
Creating complete optical camouflage across the visible light spectrum would require a coating or suit covered in tiny cameras and projectors, programmed to gather visual data from a multitude of different angles and project the gathered images outwards in an equally large number of different directions to give the illusion of invisibility from all angles. For a surface subject to bending like a flexible suit, a massive amount of computing power and embedded sensors would be necessary to continuously project the correct images in all directions. This would almost certainly require sophisticated nanotechnology, as our computers, projectors, and cameras are not yet miniaturized enough to meet these conditions."
Abstract. This paper reviews how the original telexistence (tele-existence) technology has been developed, and describes a newly developed method of mutual telexistence using projection technology onto retro-reflective objects dubbed RPT (Retro-reflective Projection Technology). Telexistence is fundamentally a concept named for the general technology that enables a human being to have a real-time sensation of being at a place other than where he or she actually exists, and being able to interact with the remote environment, which may be real, virtual, or a combination of both. It also refers to an advanced type of teleoperation system that enables an operator at the control to perform remote tasks dexterously with the feeling of existing in a surrogate robot working in a remote environment. Telexistence in the real environment through a virtual environment is also possible. Although conventional telexistence systems provide an operator the real-time sensation of being in a remote environment, persons in the remote environment have only a feeling that a surrogate robot is presented, not the operator. Mutual telexistence aims to solve this problem so that the existence of the operator is apparent to persons in the remote environment by providing mutual sensations of presence. This has become possible by the use of RPT.
And finally, "Being Invisible" -- much less meaty, but a good, non-technical introduction in case the first two documents confused you:
UPDATE: Just got ahold of another excellent intro, this one more detailed:
And two recent whitepapers that provide a great deal of engineering and mathematical detail -- the "metamaterials" discussed here will be available to consumers pretty shortly, and the possibilities are pretty much endless. A consistent and interesting look at the physics implications of invisibility suits is provided in the 10 page report "Optical Cloaking with Non-Magnetic Metamaterials." The profoundly modest David Miller offers a dense, quality treatise titled "On Perfect Cloaking."
Filed in: Future Tech
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