Real-world invisibility a step closer?

Following news the other day of real-time video surveillance erasure capabilities, an even more potent way of vanishing from the eye of surveillance is being reported on by the BBC this week (although the BBC feels the add to this rather startling science story with references to a derivative but popular children’s fantasy series). For the more scientifically literate who want to avoid the drivel, you can go straight to the research paper here.

Progress is apparently being made on making more flexible ‘metamaterials’, that is materials that can bend light around them, rendering them effectively invisible. Up until recently such materials had been inflexible, but flexibility means that a wider range of applications are possible.

Anyway, it gives me a good excuse to put up another image from the fantastic Dutch artist, Desiree Palmen, who takes a rather more painstakingly old-skool approach to invisibility.

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

2 thoughts on “Real-world invisibility a step closer?”

  1. David,

    With reference to “real-time video surveillance erasure capabilities”, can you imagine the fun/chaos which can be had with real-time image replacement/substitution, rather than just erasure ….. which is easily achieved with the digital processing power available today.

  2. True… of course substitution would be more difficult if you wanted to avoid creating images that looked ‘off’ because you would not have the option of just using surrounding pixels to create a believable continuity – but I wonder whether anyone watching a live video stream would really notice…

    And I guess to deal with this possibility, you would have to have anotther system prior to the screen that would detect alteration of the incoming image… which gets you still further away from ‘reality’. It all just adds up to video surveillance graduallly going the same way as every other supposedly ‘certain’ form of surveillance or identification. You just won’t be able to believe what you see…

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