Optical Camouflage Technology

If you're a fan of Harry Potter, then you're quite familiar with the concept of an invisibility cloak. In his first year at Hogwarts Academy, Harry receives an invisibility cloak that used to belong to his father. As its name suggests, the invisibility cloak renders Harry invisible when he slips beneath the shining, silvery cloth.


Photo courtesy ©Tachi Laboratory, the University of Tokyo
Optical-camouflage technology developed at the University of Tokyo



This seems perfectly believable when you're reading about a fictional world filled with witches, wizards and centuries-old magic; but in the real world, such a garment would be impossible, right? Not so fast. With optical-camouflage technology developed by scientists at the University of Tokyo, the invisibility cloak is already a reality.

Optical camouflage delivers a similar experience to Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, but using it requires a slightly more complicated arrangement. First, the person who wants to be invisible (let's call her Person A) dons a garment that resembles a hooded raincoat. The garment is made of a special material that we'll examine more closely in a moment. Next, an observer (Person B) stands before Person A at a specific location. At that location, instead of seeing Person A wearing a hooded raincoat, Person B sees right through the cloak, making Person A appear to be invisible. The photograph on the right below shows you what Person B would see. If Person B were viewing from a slightly different location, he would simply see Person A wearing a silver garment (left photograph below).


Photo courtesy ©Tachi Laboratory, the University of Tokyo



Still, despite its limitations, this is a cool piece of technology. Not only that, but it's also a technology that's been around for a while.



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