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Cloak of Invisibility Coming Soon? 505

Chris writes "The idea of an "invisibility cloak" has made the leap from science fiction books to an international patent application. The "three dimensional cloaking process and apparatus" for concealing objects and people (WO 02/067196) employs photodetectors on the rear surface which are used to record the intensity and color of a source of illumination behind the object. Light emitters on the front surface then generate light beams that exactly mimic the same measured intensity, color and trajectory. The result is that an observer looking at the front of the object appears to see straight through it."
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Cloak of Invisibility Coming Soon?

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  • by kylus ( 149953 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:15AM (#4188207) Homepage
    ...what's the bonus to saving throws when wearing it? :)
  • Practicality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:16AM (#4188214) Homepage
    There are many angles crossing an object, although this may work for simple front to back (as the article states)
    I don't think it is that workable for all directions, or even more then a few.
    • Re:Practicality? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by N3WBI3 ( 595976 )
      This would be pretty good camo though. you would see only a distortion from a distance. One could take this a step further and make polygon dectectors / projectors giving you sides. I know it would not be perfect but you just want to make youself hard to see in combat.
    • Re:Practicality? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lars_stefan_axelsson ( 236283 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:33AM (#4188323) Homepage
      I don't think it is that workable for all directions, or even more then a few.

      Well, that depends on what you mean by workable.

      Just getting the hue and intensity right (and being able to vary those) will go a very long way. It's not for nothing that English fishermen weren't allowed to paint their hulls white in days of yore, or that Mountbatten had his fleet painted pink. (The sky is brigther than the ocean at dusk/night and hence a light hull blends in. And pink works better agains the redder skies of asian waters).

      The US Army even conducted trials with lamps on tanks to make them harder to spot as silouettes against the sky on a ridge line for example.

      Now, the light trick is unworkable for other reasons (you have to be quick on the switch) should you drive in front of a dark object. So if this process could be automated there's much to be gained.

      Now, of course if your main objection that this is far from a cloak of invisibility, that's for certain. But it could be quite useful camouflage.

      And kids remember the old adage "A running soldier in a camoflague uniform, looks just like a running soldier in a camoflague uniform." Camouflage is still very much a stationary art. I doubt that tricks like these would change that much.

      • I suppose the same could go for space ships -- paint one entirely black, and you've got an invisible ship. That would make docking rather hard, though...
        • Re:Practicality? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Sawbones ( 176430 )
          This color scheme is used on a certain tropical fish (though I forget it's name/species/location). It's shaded dark/black on the top and light on the bottom. Predators looking up will have a hard time locating it on the relatively bright background of the sky and predators from above won't be able to see it in the mirk below. I thought it was pretty cool when I first heard about it.

          Along the lines of the whole "only works from one direction" problem for this camo. If you're not going for total image replication but rather a general brightness and hue, it seems like you could have one basically strips of mixed photo sensors and emitters paired up to similar strips on exactly oposite sides of the object. It would be a much worse match from any given direction than the technique described, but it would match at least partially from all directions.

        • It would only be invisible as long as it didn't go in front of any other spaceships, planets, moons, etc. near you or even in front of a few too many stars.

          It would still radiate in all sorts of other spectra anyway, and who's going to use visible light for spaceship detection?

          • Read your Lensman series again. You design the shape of the ship to be narrow, so that it can't be seen in the direction that it's pointed. You build it out of Titanium and Beryllium alloys so magnets won't notice it. You get rid of magnetic relays. etc.

            Occulusion isn't really anything to worry about in space. Distances being what they are, a ship would need to be REALLY big to be noticable. Of course, if you are sneaking up on something, you do need to worry about it, but the engines are more worrisome. So you need to sneak quite slowly, and with care for the exact direction that you approach from. (And you still don't worry about occulding another space ship. By the time you get *that* close, they'll find you if they're looking for you, so you pretend to be one of them.)
      • Another example is lights underneath aircraft that mimic the sky...or painting the underside of aircraft blue. *shrug*

        Another project from a while ago that the navy had was a ship that actually produced mist and had lighting that matched the lighting around it...making it very, very difficult to see from the air, or the sea. (It was in popsci, so I doubt it ever came to be).
      • "A running soldier in a camoflague uniform, looks just like a running soldier in a camoflague uniform."

        How very, very true. And, in the dark, stillness is the best camoflage of all.

        This brings to mind a memory of a childhood camping trip. Had a flashlight-tag-like game in the middle of the woods, where one person started out as 'it', and everyone else started out away from the campfire. The campfire circle was a 'safe' zone. Get tagged by an 'it' person, and you joined the 'it' crowd.

        Eventually there was only one person left untagged, and no one could find him, even though he was right under everyone's noses. Standing against a tree. And he wasn't even wearing dark clothing.

        Ah, memories....

    • I don't think it is that workable for all directions, or even more then a few.

      Not only that, but you'd have to look at it from a pre-determined distance in order for the rendered view-angle to be appropriate.
    • Re:Practicality? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xaoswolf ( 524554 ) <{Xaoswolf} {at} {}> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @11:04AM (#4188913) Homepage Journal
      Remember watching the movie "The Predator"? When the hunter sat in a tree, you couldn't see him unless you knew where to look, or already had three dots on your fore head. He was basicly invisible at that time. But when he moved, you got to see all the distortion and weird angles produced by his camoflage. That is basicly what this armor will produce, it will keep tanks hidden better than large cammo netting, snipers will be able to sit invisible for hours in almost plain sight.
      You just can't let them get too close or you're screwed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:17AM (#4188226)
    I'd have thought a Somebody Else's Problem field would be much easier and cheaper to contstruct. But I guess our reasearch into Psi is less advanced.
  • Will this mean secret service agents will now need to wear thermal goggles?

    This would be a snipers dream....

    Scary scary technology.
    • Re:Scarcy concept (Score:3, Insightful)

      by liquidsin ( 398151 )
      For a sniper, it would be great. A sniper needs to remain concealed in one location, and usually only has to worry about people seeing him from the direction he's facing. But this doesn't look to be practical for much. It looks like it only works for anyone seeing it straight on from one direction, and I can't imagine that it works too well when the person/thing being cloaked is moving or being seen from an angle. But yeah, if I were a sniper (ouside of Soldier of Fortune 2) I'd want this thing too.

    • This would be a snipers dream....

      I expect most snipers would prefer to find a well concealed spot and appropriate camoflaged clothing and face paint, and keep very still. If I was likely to be shot at, I would much prefer to rely on a bit of foliage stuck on my helmet than a fancy bit of technology, which could stop working.
    • Re:Scarcy concept (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:34AM (#4188333) Homepage
      first off a sniper is quite capable at becoming invisible already. they have been cince the 1940's. a sniper is at their best not by being unseen but un-noticed and being very very VERY patient.... waiting days before even getting a chance to target something. The biggest thing that gives away the sniper is the muzzel flash and the sound... both of which can be easily reduced.. although at violation of the geneva convention and the rules of war (now that is plain funny to me.... rules of war...) but also at a great sacrifice to the stability and energy induced to your projectile...

      A sniper wouldn't want this high tech and very probably delicate junk... they will very happily continue to be quite invisible by using skills honed by learning tricks using organic and old - doesn't require batteries camoflauge..
  • In fact... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward will be so expensive it will make your money vanish right before you eyes!
  • Looking behind it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SWroclawski ( 95770 ) <> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:19AM (#4188240) Homepage
    The problem with this device as it's designed so far is that it only works when looking straight at the object.

    In addition, I have serious questions about the resolution of the device (how many sensors and how many light emitters). Will the person look "pixelated" and or will there be some other problem.

    Lastly, such a device is not useful in combat situations as many soldiers in such a ground war situation will be outfitted with infr-red detectors, which will probably be able to detect the human behind the suit.

    Good idea but has a lot of practical problems (we haven't even discussed the power source).
    • Have some imagination!
      • For looking straight at the object: just coat the whole thing in emitters and detectors. That's not a big fundamental problem. You don't want light reflecting off the object anyway; might as well have detectors that absorb it.
      • The resolution problem can be addressed simply by increasing the resolution until it's small enough not to be noticable. Regardless, even at low resolution, it's better than normal camouflage, isn't it? (Ever seen Predator?)
      • The infrared problem can be solved the same way the visible light problem is solved. Just have IR detectors and emitters. You can even to a variety of frequencies (just as with visible light) to fool various enemy equipment.
      To me, a big problem would be to counter an active detection system that shines light on the object and looks for reflections. The emitters will be subject to a design trade-off between emission and absorption, and it might be hard to find a technology that does both well enough.
  • Flaw (Score:5, Funny)

    by alnapp ( 321260 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:19AM (#4188243) Homepage
    I suspect that the squeaking of the wheelbarrow that you'll need to carry the batteries, fuel cells or magic moonbeams that'll be needed to power this thing will render any invisibility firly useless.

    But I still want one, go figure
    • I always thought one of the coolest gadgets mentioned in Sci-Fi was the 'reactor' for the personal shield generator in the Foundation Trilogy.
      It was the size of a walnut. Of course, it didn't last very long, but a walnut-sized reactor would still be pretty cool (albeit very unlikely.)
      • The ones that didn't last very long were specially crafted, so they could be used as bribes on non-Foundation planets. Don't spread FUD on good old Foundation Technology! :)
      • We make them smaller than that! (Of course, they don't produce much power. We use them to ionize the air in smoke alarms. Americium powered, if I recall correctly.)

        We could probably make them the size of a zippo and get real power out of them, but you probably wouldn't want to carry it around with you... that size doesn't include the shielding. And I'm not sure how much power it would produce, my guess is enough for a transistor radio.

        Additionally, some of the nano-tech machinery being invented is nuclear powered. At that size they don't require enough power to be dangerous. (Again, it's lack of shielding that makes it workable.)
  • by anthonyclark ( 17109 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:20AM (#4188244)

    I'll be more impressed when a Cloak of Charisma is released; hellloooo, laydeez|boyz!

    (and no, those new cargo pants you just bought from Gap do not count).

    • I'll be more impressed when a Cloak of Charisma is released; hellloooo, laydeez|boyz!

      Or in Bangkok, hello lady-boys!

      Which reminds me, the Cloak of Charisma already exists: it's called a money-clip full of fifties.
      • Help me live longer! And you too! Use your spare CPU cycles to run folding@home []

        So I went to the site to consider participation. I didn't look too hard, but I couldn't find a single thing that indicated that they would release the data into public domain, or that they wouldn't patent things to make it unusable by those who couldn't afford their rates.

        I may be cynical, but this looks to me like another scam where they ask the public to donate, and then they take all the benefits.

        There are reasons why I support the GPL, and this appears to be an example of why I feel it should be extended into other realms. It used to be called academic respectability, but somehow that got lost as soon a money became available. Your tax dollars at work, privitizing IP!

  • Been done (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:20AM (#4188246)

    Most readers of Slashdot already have one of these. Problem is, it only works on women.

  • The only problem is, you're going to see some weird shadowing around the cloaked object and be able to tell that it's there. I can't believe that I'm actually replying to this post.
  • by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:21AM (#4188257) Homepage Journal
    Person who thinks he's invisible: You can't see me!!!

    Naked Woman: Actually, I can see a shimmery shape, because you're slightly off-center to me.

    PWTHI: Wait, wait, you're not in the right place. Move to the left.

    NW: Ok. Now you're even MORE shimmery

    PWTHI: No, no, MY left, not your left

    NW: Oh, sorry. There, the shimmering went away.

    PWTHI: Ha ha ha ha!!!! I can see you naked!!

    NW: Sir, this is a strip club. It's not exactly difficult.

  • Instead of making me invisible, I just want it to make me look thinner. Shave off my side edges by painting the background over my sides, and voila, I've lost 20 pounds.
  • by altgrr ( 593057 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:23AM (#4188273)
    This has been done before using fibre optics, I believe, so that you would effectively see through the person because they wore an outfit consisting of thin fibre optic wires routeing light straight through them. This was on TV once, although I don't know whether it was the actual suit being shown or merely some special effects to show what it _could_ look like. Either way, it looked obvious that there was someone there - anything longer than a brief glance would be time enough to tell.
  • ...Metal Gear Solid! Honestly, I think the bandana would be more fun to have, but I'd settle for invisibility, even if a cardboard box works most of the time.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:23AM (#4188275) Journal
    I recall this as similar to an old WWII camoflage technique, to make the apparent brightness of an object match the bacjground.

    I believe in WWII some submarine hunter aircraft had spotlights on the front to make the apparent brightness of the dark aircraft match the sky. Killed more subs that way.

    this technique worked really well for large objects if they were a good distance away, like for a tank of the horizon or an aircraft in the sky. awful for close up work.

    I recall a good article on this someplace on the web, but to find it now on short notice .....

    • Roger that. They're still experimenting with it I believe.

      Saw some clip on TV once of a modern British Army truck whose side was covered in spotlights sitting at the crest of a hill. A few km away they showed what it looked like before and after turning on the lights. The truck just disappeared against the sky.

      I'm guessing that there are all sorts of other problems. IE: it only works when you're siloetted against the sky, and against a dark hill it spots you out!, so it's probably not as useful on a ground vehicle as it seems.

      Now, laying down a bright sheet of photo-luminescent plastic or super bright white LEDs on a slow moving low flying military drone, that might be a cool idea to increase it's survivability. It's always silouetted against the sky. The only problem there is power consumption. Even an overcast sky is hundreds of watts per square meter of light.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:26AM (#4188292)
    What, no pictures?
  • Where do I send my money so he can finish the prototype? I want to use it to hide my perpetual motion machine!
  • Close one (Score:3, Funny)

    by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:28AM (#4188304)
    Whew!... just imagine if this technology had been developed before our ability to uncloak terrorist networks [].
  • I can see this happening, with a lot more refinement. You'd need gobs of processing power, hosts of tiny photodetectors and projectors, and a very small but reliable and long-lasting power supply (as somebody else already noted). With today's tech, this idea is pretty useless. The engineering obstacles could be overcome in the future. On the other hand, it would be pretty easy to come up with effective countermeasures. Wouldn't this thing radiate like hell in the infrared?
  • by Twylite ( 234238 ) < minus painter> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:36AM (#4188350) Homepage

    The article very definately uses the words "detect" (light behind) and "generate" (image in front). This implies it is not some passthrough technology (fiber, etc), but an electronic record and recreation.

    If this "clock" could live up to its claims, there are three (possibly more) far more interesting applications that must be considered:

    • Holographic photography: the photoreceptors on the back can apparently sense the intensity, colour and trajectory. They can also do this without a lens. Impressive.
    • Holographic projection / 3D TV: the light emitters on the front can recreate the image behind the object. In order to do this with enough accuracy to clock an object, they have to recreate the trajectory of the light; failing this they have a 2D image which will be noticable as soon as the viewer moves.
    • Realistic looking TV: apart from the 2D/3D problem, TV just doesn't look real because it is poor at depecting matt textures. A glowing, glossy area within your field of vision would certainly attract your attention, even if it fitted into the background.

    Given that researchers would be coining it from more down-to-earth inventions like these, I can't really see that the technology - as described - exists or is being developed.

    • Doing the detection without a lens is easy. Just use a fly's eye approach. A detector at the bottom of an opaque cylinder with the top off (or even a simple lens at the top). If the background was relatively stable, you could use a rotating filter, but it might be better to use triple the number of detectors, and parcel them out in triads, with each cylinder having a filter at the top for R, G, or G. (Sort of the opposite of a tv screen.)

      As to the resolution... nobody's said just how good it is. How good it would need to be would depend on it's intended purpose.

    • > If this "clock" could live up to its claims...
      > to clock an object...

      Why can't you write "cloak". Try it... Cl-oooooooooooo-ak. Try it again.
  • by Titusdot Groan ( 468949 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:37AM (#4188357) Journal
    Because of angles of viewing etc. this wouldn't make you invisible -- this would be great camoflage though -- you'd match the color and light of the background almost perfectly.

    The most important part of camoflage is making recognizable features hard to see -- hands, faces, etc -- things our visual system is hardwired to pickup out of the background. This invisibility cloak would do that.

    I imagine it looking like the Alien in that Arnold movie, hard to see unless it's moving and then the distortions give it away.

    Of course is this a really old idea -- heck it a similiar idea was in comics in the 1970s (some super heros club house had this kind of device to hide it from view).

  • I was hoping to see the cloak in action. :-)
  • by yelims ( 160240 ) <> on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:41AM (#4188385) Homepage Journal
    ...when I see it.

    Sorry, it had to be said.
  • Perfect bad patent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:42AM (#4188390)
    This is a pretty near perfect example of a bad patent.
    1) the idea is pretty obvious (as well as many references in common SF literature)
    2) the actual implementation with current tech will be pretty miserable. Put big bright light behind object, make object shine big bright light at viewer. Viewer is blinded by both and as object is indistinquishable the technique is easily demonstrated to the patent requirement level.
    3) it serves as a patent stake. Further research into a better/improved technology will have to deal with this patent.

    This is a near perfect bad patent that grants the patent holder a big stake in the ground for actually showing very little. And any future work that will actually improve the technique is going to have to deal with the patent.
  • This is interesting, but will be of rather limited usefulness if the viewable angle is not very wide.
  • by mborysow ( 599155 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:43AM (#4188396)
    Even if this intended to be just one way. You'd have to have very little light coming from the direction of the intended person to be "blinded." This would assume that this cloak will absorb *all* (up to a point that's observable) the light that would have reflected off of it and to the observer. Well, perfect black body's just don't exist. There'll always be likely to have a reflection come off of this thing.

    That's just the beginning, I don't think we're anywhere near having what's essentially an instantly recorded and rebroadcast super high resolution wrappable screen. The way, though I could be mistaken, that most light sources are created even in high definition display devices, will allow for scattering, so the image you would see where the person should be would be blurry. You'd have to get pretty close to duplicating every photon. Not nearly so accurately of course since the human eye isn't so good, but still.

    Anyway, I'm just stupid. /me wanders away.
  • Depth perception (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Myco ( 473173 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:44AM (#4188404) Homepage
    Many have already pointed out the most obvious problem -- any angle other than straight on is going to wreck the effect. But let's not forget that a human with two functional, open eyes never views an object from just one angle (unless one eye's view of the object is obstructed -- geez, picky...). Ah, the miracle of depth perception. I don't think this method is nearly sophisticated enough to compensate for all the subtle clues we get from our binocular vision. Nice try, though. I mean, I think that everyone who's considered the possibility of invisibility has come up with a scheme like this. It's nice to see it coming closer to reality, but we all know that at this stage it's too limited except for perhaps certain special circumstances. But yeah, I want one too.
  • Geez. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @09:45AM (#4188408)
    Wouldn't it be easier just to drill a hole into the girl's locker room?

    I mean, its not as high tech, but its a lot cheaper.

  • "The idea of an "invisibility cloak" has made the leap from science fiction books to an international patent application.

    That's supposed to be a leap? Somebody hasn't been keeping up with patents lately....
  • Ever since I read William Gibson's "Neuromancer" for the first time, invisibility has always been synonymous with the Panthers Modern's mimetic polycarbon suits. The graphic novel only served to burn this image into my mind even more by giving form to how it would look / work / be used.

    Too cool. They should hand these out to Delta Force and snipers once they've been refined a few times over. Then they'll really be something to be afraid of -- living, heavily armed ghosts.
  • I look at this and I can't help but think of the ol' Cloak of Darkness out of Wizards & Warriors.

    Thou hath wasted thy fucking time []
  • I had troubles getting a good link that works, but... here's the best shot:

    Username: guest Password:guest []

    It doesn't have much, but there is a pretty picture!


  • by l1gunman ( 463233 )
    ...they'll also discover the cure for "Quicksilver Madness" before this goes operational.
  • I wonder how he intends to get round nthe fact that the back of a soldier is nothing like the front of a soldier and the clothing needs to be flexible and will change shape, so you can't just link sensors one to one. Unless the camoflauge outfit is shaped like a rigid barrel, you not only need to know what's behidn you, but you also need to know the exact shape and position of the "cloak". How is that done?

  • I made one of these before...

    ...Now I can't find it.

  • Would be to flood an area with high intensity light. The re-emitters will be strongly limited in how much light they can throw out, and what you would see would be a moving dark spot (still looking like the ground beneath him) against a light background.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @10:21AM (#4188622) Homepage an amusing century-old story about competitive brothers who devise two different methods of achieving invisibility. It's online here [].

    In his fictional story, both methods have problems. The problems are more than fictional, since one of the methods relies on the nonsense supposition that since black is the absence of light, the only reason you can see something that's black is that the black isn't PERFECTLY black, and that if you could achieve perfect blackness you could achieve invisibility.

    However, the method described in the parent article here is equally flawed, since it would work only for an observer placed in a specific view location. One wonders how the equipment is supposed to locate the observer; if there are several observers, how does it decide which of them should be prevented from seeing the object?

    The method bears a close resemblance to Hollywood special effects processes (glass shots, matte shots, etc.) Special effects processes are notorious for having visible edge effects if not done carefully, and I'm sure this would be true of the proposed method as well.

    In "The Shadow and the Flash," one invisibility cloak could be detected by a sensation of darkness and depression whenever the concealed individual was nearby; the other suffered from occasional rainbow flashes due to mismatches in the index of refraction. I'm sure that the proposed method would have similar problems.
    • In his fictional story, both methods have problems. The problems are more than fictional, since one of the methods relies on the nonsense supposition that since black is the absence of light, the only reason you can see something that's black is that the black isn't PERFECTLY black, and that if you could achieve perfect blackness you could achieve invisibility.

      And the other process was to make the subject transparent. Would work if possible but also impractical.

      But a "cloak" that either records the view on one side, small patch by small patch, and reconstructs it on the other side ditto, or actually pipes the light around and re-emits it, has been used repeatedly in science fiction since the Golden Age of Campbell's editorship of Astounding/Analog magazine.

      I THINK some of 'em even got the need for networking each "camera" to multiple "displays", to account for the virtual passage of light through the thickness of the cloaked space, though I don't recall any of 'em explicitly mentioning the need for the network connectivity to be dynamic, to account for a flexing body.

      (I'd dig through my collection to find a few samples but it would take a while. If you want to dig through yours, start with Randall Garret.)

      Now if somebody has come up with a particular WAY to pipe the light or its signal around that's worthy of a patent. But if they've just patented the idea of mimicing a transparency (light emission) or do what an octopus does (variable absorbtive color cells to mimic the surface behind), it's been described repeatedly.

      An aside: One of the funnier throwaways in a fantasy novel (Too Many Magicians?) was the presentation at a magician's conference of a spell for making EVERYTHING BUT THE EYES invisible. The disadvantage of the previous spells was that they made the subject blind, because the light didn't interact with his eyes. It is easier to hide a floating pair of eyes than a whole body, and easier to be unnoticed if you aren't constantly bumping into things. B-)
  • So basically its a very complicated method of using the old smoke and mirrors affect that magicians have employed for years?
  • We won't be ahead of the Klingons until we can fire phasers while cloaked.
  • by Hallow ( 2706 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @10:45AM (#4188760) Homepage
    How about a house with sensors on the outside walls, and the projectors on the inside?

    It would be like being outside, except the outside couldn't see or get in. And I'm sure it probably wouldn't transmit uva/uvb, so no sunburn. Imagine, no more sky windows. The ceiling could be the sky, complete with clouds. (Of course you could control the briteness, turn it off/on, etc.)

    This could even replace windows in buildings you'd want more secured or where glass is a structural liability.
  • I remember talking about invisibility with friends after seeing the original Predator film.

    The concept of light readers on one side of an object and light emitters on the other was an idea that was quickly proposed (by me) and then rejected (by me and others) because (a) it's too much of a "brute force" technique and not particularly scientific, (b) the required resolution to be 100% effective would be so high as to make it practically impossible, (c) it wouldn't stand up to any reasonable human scrutiny, never mind computer analysis, and (d) it would only work with fixed-shape objects, not people or animals, because any change in shape of the enshrouded object would produce distortion in the 'invisibility'. (Presumably this was the logic behind the shimmering effect of the alien in Predator?)

    So I hope this patent application isn't successful unless it is *solely* for the implementation, not the idea. If they're trying to patent the idea then I want to claim prior art by at least ten years, even if we didn't get past the discussion stage.

    And if I ever try to patent the idea then I expect Jim and John Thomas [] to take their turn at claiming prior art, and they should win. And I'm sure there were others before them.
  • when I was 6 years old, I thought that could be done by adding a bunch of mirrors to redirect light around the person wearing the cloak. Kind of like a lot of periscopes or fibre optics. There are lots of problems with this idea, namely the bulkiness of the mirrors and such, but I was 6 when I thought of it.

    I guess this is my declaration of my idea. Fee free to reference this as prior art when someone tries to patent an invisibility cloack through the use of mirrors.

    If someone can patent something that I thought of when I was 6, then either (a) something is wrong with the patent office, or (b) I should be filing a lot more patents.

  • Photo reception on one end. Light emission on the other.

    Was this not obvious to anyone a decade ago?
  • by GutterBunny ( 153341 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @11:27AM (#4189072) Journal
    ...a productivity cloak.

    Imagine it. You're having a lousy day at the office. Got nothing done, but read email. Your boss comes storming in asking for a report that's 2 months overdue. You simply throw on your productivity cloak and (walla!) your screen shows a nearly completed report, while you appear confident it'll be done soon.

  • The article explains that the photoreceptors and emitter array would copy what's behind the wielder and blast it forward. Great, but what if the object behind you is super luminous or moving very rapidly. I doubt the photoemitters could keep up with, say, the sun. Heck, they might not even be able to render Quake 3 at a decent frame rate. Not to mention the power requirements...(read any of the the "wheelbarrel" comments made by others.) Also, this idea has been thought up before. Prior Art being a concern, I (personally) would reject his patent claim.
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @12:07PM (#4189367) Homepage Journal
    Now that they have solved the tall guy sitting in front of you in the movie theater .... Now they just need to solve the jerk sitting behind you kicking your seat.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.