There are real-life actual situations where an invisibility cloak could be really useful, and not just for sloping about the corridors of Hogwarts at night either. Chinese students have apparently cracked the code and created what is in all effects, a coat that can avoid both infrared cameras and AI detection.
The implications are enormous, particularly in surveillance-heavy states such as China. Of course, there are also lots of potential military uses for this technology, to avoid detection by drones, for example.
So how does the coat work? Well, apparently, the InvisDefense coat allows the wearer to be seen but not detected as human. Something I seem to achieve on a daily basis, at least until I’ve had a coffee.
The coat itself will cost around $71, not nearly as costly as I might have expected. The student design team based at Wuhan University deliberately designed the jacket to be a low-cost way of evading detection from AI security camera systems. As a wearable item, it can be worn at any time of day and is not as conspicuous as other devices might be. To the naked eye, the coat appears similar to most other camouflage patterns.
The coat’s pattern was designed using a special algorithm that renders the coat effectively invisible to cameras. To avoid heat sensors and infrared detection, the coat uses embedded thermal devices to create conflicting and confusing heat signals. Effectively the cameras are so confused they cannot determine the coat’s wearer as human.
The students told Vice World News that they designed the product “to counter malicious detection, to protect people’s privacy and safety in certain circumstances.”
One aspect of the coat’s design may also be counterintuitive, and help scientists understand how to better identify humans through AI learning. This could have significant safety implications, for example, in relation to self-driving cars.
One issue so far has been pedestrian and cyclist safety, where the car’s computer system failed to recognize them as human objects. The hope is that such design and technology can help to make all road users safer in the future and avoid fatalities.