metamaterial masking moves toward practical application

24 02 2011

Via Rachel Courtland, New Scientist. Issue 2800

NOW you see it, now it looks like something else. Radar images might never be the same again, thanks to an illusion device that can change an object’s appearance. The technology could ultimately be used to hide military aircraft.

The device is part of a growing family of metamaterials – structures designed to steer light along curved paths. They have already been used to make objects appear invisible and to disguise a gap between two objects.

Wei Xiang Jiang and Tie Jun Cui’s team at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, have created a structure that changes the way radio waves interact with a copper cylinder so that it appears to be composed of another material altogether.

Copper conducts electricity well and reflects incoming radio waves, giving it a bright radar signature. To alter this behaviour, the team built a device made of 11 concentric rings of circuit boards etched with small metal-lined channels that prevent electromagnetic waves reflecting away. Instead, they guide the waves in a direction that the researchers choose specifically to make the hidden object appear to have different electrical properties.

Placed around a copper cylinder, the arrangement created the illusion that the cylinder was made of a dielectric, a class of materials including porcelain and glass that do not conduct electricity and are more transparent to radio waves.

"Electromagnetic cloak"

A similar waveguide that rendered small objects invisible was tested in 2009.

The illusion only worked when the cylinder was viewed from the side; what’s more, the imaginary object it generated was the same size as the original. Future designs would have to account for all three dimensions, and might produce an illusion quite different from the object they disguise.

“In principle, this technology could be used to make an illusion of an arbitrary shape and size,” says Cui, whose team created an electromagnetic “black hole” for light in 2009. Similar illusion devices could eventually be used for stealth technology: for example, to “convert the radar image of an aircraft into a flying bird”, Cui says.

The work, which will be published in Physical Review E, is still at an early stage, however. At 45 millimetres, the team’s illusion device is three times as wide as the cylinder it disguised. “Their device is still fairly bulky relative to the original object, so further work needs to be done before a real device can be deployed,” says John Pendry of Imperial College London.

Although invisibility devices were invented first, the illusion technology might win the race to be put to practical use. “It is easier to falsify something than to hide it,” Pendry says.

The team next plans to explore ways to design devices with more complex shapes.





serbia steps up

15 10 2010

News from the Balkans, via Soldier Systems: After several years that saw some unusual digitally-designed camouflage schemes getting publicity as ‘the next new Serbian pattern’ (see examples below), the real-deal is now on show.

 

From the small, publicly available pictures I’ve seen, the new pattern seems to combine a Multicam style blurred/hard-edged background pattern of three shades (olive green, grey-green and light khaki) with sharper edged, fractal type shapes in rust brown and black.





sneaky sneakers

15 10 2010

Loving these tigerstripe camouflage shoes by Rhythm Footwear I saw via Soldier Systems. My desert camo All Stars have just developed a split in the sole, so maybe…

"Rhythm-Footwear-Camo-Sneakers"

 





better camo on the web

7 08 2010

My ICUS colleague Jon has launched a website for his new business  ‘Better Camo’ whose stated aim is to

“achieve superior concealment through the use of large, environmental texture and color based, digitally designed camouflage patterns”

With two  or three different textures on display, and having observed and absorbed the lessons learned by trailblazing companies like Hyde Definition, Better Camo looks set to add its distinctive look to the digital camouflage revolution.

"Better Camo gtx large swatch demo"

You can check out the patterns yourself, and follow Jon’s blog or his twitter posts  here: http://www.bettercamo.com/

We will be following their progress with interest and wish them every success for the future!





new afghan pixellated pattern

6 08 2010

My colleague Lawrence, over at Strike-Hold, picked up on some news out of Afghanistan which reveals that the Afghan National Civil Order Police are being kitted out in a desert coloured variant of Hyperstealth’s Spec4ce digital camouflage. The colours, while not the same, remind me of a mix between the old US 3 colour Desert Camouflage Uniform and Canada’s CADPAT Arid Regions.

The pale minty green background colour is not as out of  place as one might think – from just a short distance away the hue fades to a greyish colour and the browner tones in the pattern dominate.





hyde definition’s new look

6 08 2010

Hyde Definition, the digital camouflage and concealment company I run, has finally finished revamping its website. Well actually, not quite, as there are still one or two things that need adding and tidying, but to all intents and purposes it is done. Come on over and take a look!

"Hyde Definition web page"





camo comparison two

6 08 2010

ITS Tactical, who did a terrific job photographing several different camouflage patterns in Oklahoma last year, have hit gold again with a repeat of the test, this time in Texas, and featuring a few more camouflage patterns (and a few less duds).

With half an eye on the current conflict in Afghanistan the team at ITS chose a mixture of terrain that included sand and rocks and some scrubby growth. Although the landscape favoured desert and semi-arid camo patterns, four woodland/temperate designs were featured in the tests too – MARPAT Woodland, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Digital, Jieitai (Japanese flecktarn) and PenCott. Judge for yourself, but of the four,  I know which one I’d choose to wear in that sort of environment, if arid camo was not available ;-) Well, you would  expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?

"ITS Camo Comparison 2"

The test is very comprehensive, with consistent photos of all the camouflage patterns mounted on a dummy at set ranges in four different locales. You get a chance to pick up to four best performing patterns in each photo set. A tip regarding voting though – to be sure you are voting for the patterns you think are best, familiarise yourself with the designs – and the order they appear in – with one of the close range photo sets, because at long range it gets pretty hard to tell some of them apart, and the picture captions don’t give anything away!

Anyhow, you can check it all out on ITS Tactical’s blog





camouflage takes centre stage

5 08 2010

If you’re anywhere near Brussels, Belgium from October 13th to 15th this year, you could do worse than go to the city’s Royal Military Museum and listen in on the camouflage symposium occurring there.

Although day one doesn’t really count, being more of  meet’n’mingle for camo geeks, the symposium gets going by day two, when several guest speakers, representing a wide range of institutions and disciplines, will give 20-minute talks that  will cover a selection of topics from the origins and history of camouflage, through its evolution  during two World Wars, to modern developments.

Day three continues where day one left off, but also takes a wider look at camouflage from technical,  socio-historical and artistic points of view.

It looks to be a stimulating event for camouflage fans, but even if that’s not your bag (and if it isn’t, why are you reading this?), the venue is guaranteed to be a worthwhile experience for military history buffs too.





new multi-terrain camouflage patterns

7 06 2010

Hyde Definition announces new PenCott multi-terrain camouflage patterns and revised licensing rates

New patterns have been specifically optimised for arid and semi-arid terrain – the most common and most likely operational environments for military assistance and special operations forces.

Newly revised licensing rates have been developed which make it even simpler and easier for companies to produce their own clothing and equipment designs in the PenCott camouflage pattern.

7 June 2010 – Hyde Definition Ltd. announces the release of two new multi-terrain camouflage colourways based on the proven PenCott multi-environment camouflage pattern.  The new semi-arid environment “PenCott-Badlands” and arid environment “PenCott-Sandstorm” patterns have been specifically created to provide superior camouflage, and thus a tactical edge, for personnel operating in these environments.

"sandstorm_uae"

Simulation of PenCott "Sandstorm" pattern

Arid and semi-arid regions cover more than a third of the earth’s land mass and pose a distinct set of challenges to military forces – and especially camouflage designers. These regions are also the locations of the majority of armed conflicts that account for 1,000 deaths per year or more. These types of terrain therefore represent a very real operational requirement for uniforms and equipment optimised for use in these challenging environments.

The PenCott Multi-Environment Camouflage pattern uses a unique, digitally-enhanced mixture of blending and disrupting techniques, and has been specifically designed to:

  • conceal more effectively at all typical engagement distances
  • conceal more effectively at much closer distances than other patterns
  • conceal more effectively in multiple environments and terrains
  • dramatic improvement in concealment over previous generation patterns

Effective camouflage defeats the ability of the observer to detect or recognise the wearer as something of interest. But typical disruptive pattern camouflage can sometimes weaken the effect by introducing colours or shapes that look alien to a particular environment.

"PenCott Badlands Afghanistan simulation"

Simulation of PenCott "Badlands" pattern

PenCott’s unique digital fractal design dithers four terrain-optimised contrasting colours – creating a combination of soft, blended and hard edges for a more natural-looking texture, and the illusion of a wider spectrum of colour tones.

The complex PenCott pattern is harder for the human eye to process, and recognisable shapes such as limbs and head-gear – or the lines of pocket edges – become more difficult to detect and recognise. PenCott disguises the wearer so effectively that he or she appears to literally melt in to the terrain.

The original PenCott-GreenZone pattern rapidly established a reputation of being “probably the best temperate/tropical terrain camouflage pattern in the world” (to paraphrase the famous beer adverts). Now the release of the “Badlands” and “Sandstorm” colourways means that special operations forces can enhance their tactical edge in those regions where they’re most likely to be deployed.

The new simpler, easier, revised scale of licensing fees makes it even easier for companies to produce their own clothing and equipment designs in the PenCott camouflage pattern. For further information, contact: dom@hydedefinition.com

About Hyde Definition
Headquartered in East Anglia in the UK, Hyde Definition has a young, loyal and dedicated team who strive to deliver cutting edge concealment solutions for personnel, materiel, vehicles and buildings.

Founded in 2007, the company undertakes camouflage design commissions and licensing agreements worldwide.

Visit the website www.hydedefinition.com





new camo for luxembourg?

2 05 2010

A reader from the International Camouflage Uniform Society took this picture of a smock, made in the UK by a small but well known Lancaster military clothing manufacturer, in a camouflage pattern apparently intended for Luxembourg’s armed forces.

"Luxembourg camo smock"

pic courtesy of Mr M. Jaab, ICUS

Interestingly, this pattern is a variation of Finland’s recently introduced M/05 digital camouflage design, which has been seen in summer, winter and snow colour schemes, but not previously in this particular colourway. Edit: I now believe that this is the ‘winter’ pattern, and that flash photography has lightened the colours. See this image for comparison.

Luxembourg’s army is tiny, at less than 1000 members, and so has never before had it’s own camouflage pattern, being clothed instead in surplus US Army woodland camouflage Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU) or Belgian desert ‘jigsaw’ pattern attire.  This may herald a change in the everyday dress of the Luxembourg soldier, or it may only be part of a trial to find a new camouflage – as I learn more, you can be sure you will read it here!








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