Researchers in Japan have invented an incredible invisibility cloak.
The technology comes from 2003, but it’s developers say the Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak is just the beginning. The team, led by Dr. Susumu Tachi, from Keio University, is now adapting their findings to help pilots, drivers, doctors and others.
Retro-reflective projection technology uses a computer, a video camera and projector to shine background images onto the front of a subject wearing specialised clothing, creating the illusion of invisibility.
What makes the technology unique is a fabric made of glass beads only 50 microns wide, which can reflect light directly back at the source, much like the screen in a cinema.
Viewed from near the light source, the projection is bright even in broad daylight, and researchers say the material can be applied to almost anything. In the short term, the team sees usage in car interiors, airplanes and helicopters.
They say blind spots could be eliminated and accidents and hard landings avoided by making walls seemingly transparent.
The eventual goal though is to create an “augmented reality” that allows anyone to easily see information on real world objects.
[Dr. Susumu Tachi, Keio University]:
“Looking to the future, instead of glasses, people could wear this and it would act as a navigation system. It could also tell you who someone is, if you meet them around town.”
In the few years since the technology’s invention, the price of the material, as well as that of computing, has come down, opening the door for smaller yet more powerful applications.
Whether used to increase safety or to create a whole new form of computer-human interaction, the world is likely to see, or possibly not see, more of this technology in the future.
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