A team of researchers in South Korea is developing an artificial “skin” that could give soldiers the power of invisibility. This special cloak not only makes the soldiers’ invisible to regular cameras, but also thermal imaging cameras.
The skin helps in camouflaging and also in mimicking with thermal profiles of the surrounding environment. It uses activating heating and cooling to imitate colors or thermal profiles of the surrounding environment. Not only that, this cloaking skin can even switch from one to the other mode in just five seconds.
The skin is made of pixelized screens. Each of them uses thermochromic liquid crystals that allow them to change their color, depending on the surrounding temperature.
In experiments, the team demonstrated the cloak’s capabilities with a patch placed on a human hand. They did it by moving a hand across a background of varying colors and temperatures.
Seung Hwan Ko, a researcher at Seoul National University and team lead, said, “As the hand moves across different backgrounds (whether it is a visible or [infrared] cloaking mode) … each pixel sequentially switches its color/temperature based on their relative positions,”
But the patch is not yet capable of recognizing ambient colors. Their demonstrations had to manually input the surrounding colors to test the device. “However, we recently developed a method to detect and mimic the environment by integrating a micro camera with our devices to make an autonomously working device,” said Seung.