1. What is it About
You are walking around in the ruins trying to be careful not to create too much dust. After all, you don’t want to give your position away. The situation is critical. The enemy is coming towards you in droves and you need to get out of here to get yourself back to the base. You were part of an advance reconnaissance team on a top secret mission. The last thing you want is to let the enemy know you where here. It will lead to all sorts of political issues. You are wearing the latest gadget the military has acquired; the Invisible Cloak. It is almost a privilege to wear it. It effectively makes you transparent, much like the good old Predator movie. You can’t believe they actually made it. But here it is and you are wearing it. The module that comes with it is rather bulky, and makes you twice as large, but at least they won’t be able to see you …
Invisibility has been our dream for a long time and as demonstrated in many movies and work of fiction such as ‘The Invisible Man’ by H. G. Wells, it can be put to good use or it can be abused.
2. Where is the Fun
- Any child would know how much fun it is if you could become invisible. You can scare your parents, escape from school, paint graffiti on walls, take revenge on bully guys in the neighbourhood, the list is endless…
- Perform magic, this time you can do it for real.
- Make object invisible by covering them with a cloak. They can be used in theatre, as display arts or in museums.
- You can wonder in amazement how the roof of a building is held together, only to realise later that they have made the columns invisible.
3. What are its Applications
- It is possible to use invisibility to create special effects on stage, theatre, even when producing movies.
- Defence and military applications are numerous. Invisibility in a battlefield can lead to disturbing consequences.
4. How Developed is it
Is it really possible to become invisible? We are probably closer to getting this technology than you think.
- Active camouflage. A flexible display can act as an invisible cloak. Each pixel on the display is programmed to show what is seen on the opposite side by cameras mounted on the cloak. This great article by Wired shows that the concept is not firmly in the philosophical phase and at least when you have a go at it (mentally that is) there might be light at the end of the tunnel.
- Controlling light wave. By bending light waves as they pass through you and later bending them back to how they were before they hit you, you may become invisible. There won’t be any scattering or shadows.
- Optical camouflage which is a type of active camouflage displays an image of the scene on the side opposite to the viewer on you, so that the viewer can see through you, rendering you invisible.
5. How Can it be Improved
Invisibility is in early conceptual stage and there are many challenges to overcome. At least the technology is no longer seen as magical. Experts believe it can be done and humans have proved that if something can be done, they will do it.
True invisibility may prove to be complicated or expensive. However, a compromise which blends and camouflages an entity into its surrounding environment may prove to be a reasonable cost-effective solution.
6. What Does it Lead to
Living in a society where you can’t trust what you see can be quite scary. However, we may get used to this a lot earlier through games and virtual reality. These effects can easily be created in the virtual world and as a result a typical user of such systems will train his senses to handle such situations, both being invisible herself or when confronted with invisible objects. The visual realism in these virtual worlds can help to make a convincing illusion.