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Invisibility Is No Longer Science Fiction (or Magic). It’s Here.

A new technique, the “invisibility shield,” which offers the user near invisibility, is reaching the marketing stage

Have you ever wanted to be invisible just to get some privacy? Maybe when using a bank machine or sunbathing in the backyard? Experimentation over the last few years has come up with an “invisibility shield” that offers near invisibility without blocking the light. A British startup, Invisibility Shield Co., is raising seed money for a commercial venture that offers to ship the ones already manufactured to backers.

A scam? It seems not:

It wouldn’t likely shield anyone from the police or bill collectors but if all you want is privacy with sunlight, it’s certainly an option:

The science behind the invention isn’t perfect. The shield can’t perfectly replicate the scene behind the subject, but rather recreates it as a hazy, blurred out representation.

“The shields perform at their absolute best against uniform backgrounds such as foliage, grass, rendered walls, sand, sky and asphalt,” the Kickstarter page reads. “Backgrounds with defined horizontal lines work really well too and these can be natural features such as the horizon or man made features like walls, rails or painted lines.”

Victor Tangermann, “Startup says it’s created an actual ‘invisibility shield’” at Futurism (March 22, 2022)

The concept has been around for about a decade and has been through a number of technical failures but it is now nearing commercial use.

How does it work?:

The technology behind the function of the shield is fairly simple. A precision-engineered lens array works to deflect light from the subject (behind the shield), away from the observer (in front of the shield). The lenses are oriented vertically to allow light from the subject to diffuse when it passes through the shield. The light from the subject’s background is refracted towards the observer who cannot spot the subject hiding behind the shield.

Ameya Paleja, “A UK-based company designs invisibility shield that you can buy today” at Interesting Engineering (March 18, 2022)

Because the invisibility effect depends on optics, the shield does not require a power source.

The firm offers tips on making oneself even less visible:

“The shield performs at its absolute best when the clothing you are wearing is the same color and slightly lighter or equal to the brightness of the background scenery,” they explain.

“The shield still works very well with dark and differently colored clothing against a light background, but this combination makes the face of the shield slightly darker overall relative to the background, than it would be if the holder were wearing light clothing.”

Jamie Harris, “Real life ‘invisibility shield’ hides user in plain sight” at New York Post (March 23, 2022)

The company has received several hundred orders for either the 12 × 8 inch model (US$65) or the 3 × 2 foot model ($394), shipping included, and hopes to have them available by Christmas.

Some think that the invisibility shield will find a use in military operations:

Of course, military use will likely result in prompt investment in technologies aimed at overcoming the invisibility. Those who just want privacy without blocking the light must hope that any “revisibility” technique that the military comes up with remains… classified.

You may also wish to read: The Bionic Man was science fiction; the bionic hand is not. A recent internet-savvy bionic hand, developed by an American neuroscientist and computer engineer, is the most flexible yet, with sensory feedback. The trouble is, if the new bionic hands are going to help most of the world’s amputees , they can’t cost six million dollars, as in the old TV show.

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Invisibility Is No Longer Science Fiction (or Magic). It’s Here.