Harry Potter-style “invisibility cloak” is being tested by the British troops in the US that allows them to hide from the enemy with soldiers hailing it as a “brilliant piece of kit”. The invisibility cloak that Harry Potter used to move around Hogwarts undetected may have promising applications in real life particularly when used in the battlefield.
In field trials conducted in the US, soldiers from the 3rd Battalion The Rifles tried using a camouflage sheeting known as Vatec, which allows them to hide even from infrared and heat-searching devices.
During trials conducted at Fort Benning in Georgia, the snipers used the material, which can be molded into shapes to match the terrains, to come-up with hideaways during mock battles, the US-based Tech Times news website reported.
The participants reported that they could not be seen even when other soldiers who acted as the enemy tried to search for them using the latest infrared trackers and heat-seeking devices, the report said.
The material, which was originally developed by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Illinois, attempts to replicate the special ability of cephalopods such as the octopus and squid to blend in with the environment to evade their predators, it said.
These creatures’ skin has pigment-rich cells called chromatophores that change colour in response to external factors such as the presence of a predator. Researchers have developed a process that mimics this ability with a technology known as visual appearance modulation.
The material they developed has one side that contains tiny light-sensitive cells that are sensitive to the colours of the environment.
Once colours are detected, electrical signals trigger the top layer to imitate those colours using heat-sensitive dyes, a process that takes place in as fast as two to three seconds.
The colour-changing technology is estimated to be put in use to camouflage military vehicles on the battlefields and allow soldiers to instantly adapt to the surroundings within five years.
Professor Xuanhe Zhao from Massachusetts Institute of Technology was quoted by the British paper Daily Star as saying, “I have high hopes for its use in military camouflage.”
Corporal Tyrone Hoole, a sharpshooter from 3 Rifles, said, “It’s a brilliant piece of kit.”
Despite the advancements, some physicists are skeptical about the ability of invisibility cloaks to hide objects from all observers.