canada, cramer and cuepat

31 10 2009

Interesting news from Canada this week – a sole-source tender has been announced for the development of an experimental urban camouflage (CUEPAT – Canadian Urban Environment Pattern) based on the metropolitan environments of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The tender makes mention of CBR (chemical, biological and radiological protection) in one sentence, though there is no indication as to whether this prototype camouflage is being developed solely for use on CBR clothing.

Urban environments are notoriously difficult to design effective human personnel camouflage for, as not only is the vertically oriented, rounded, organic shape of a person out of place amongst the hard edges, flat planes and bulky volumes of the man-made environment, but there also is no such thing as a typical urban colour scheme. Any number of greys, browns, creams and greens will be found in the typical city, not to mention all the hues of the spectrum that appear on advertising space, doors, façades and shop fronts, cars, trucks and buses – you name it.

My prediction is that without some pretty clever thinking by the design team, the outcome of this program will be a FAIL for effective camouflage, but a WIN for Army fashionistas and the B.S. brigade, just like UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) was for the US Army.

The sole-source tender is effectively a no-bid offer to Guy Cramer and Tim O’Neill of  Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corporation,  stating as it does that  there are

no alternative sources of supply for this
requirement as no other Canadian source exists that has the
capability to design and develop digital, non-repeating
camouflage patterns using state-of-the-art fractal algorithms
and feed back loop technology, with concomitant IP protected
access to approximately 8,000 copyrighted patterns that can be
used in full support of meeting the requirement.

Although the terms of the tender allow competing companies to submit a bid, that bid must contain at least 80% goods and/or services of Canadian origin, and be submitted in writing before November 6th. Few, if any, of the other players in the digital camouflage industry are placed to take advantage of such a tightly constrained offer, meaning that however ineffective the design(s) submitted by Hyperstealth might be, the Canadian government will have no choice but to accept them.

There’s more on this story at Soldier Systems, and you can read the original tender as a pdf via this link.