Potterheads gather around! Chinese students have created an invisibility cloak. Though it might not be quite the same as its namesake from the Harry Potter series. The cloak has the same purpose, sort of. According to the National Post, four graduate students from the University of Wuhan in China have invented this low-cost “invisibility cloak” that they call InvisiDefense coat. It is meant to hide the human body from AI-monitored security cameras. Thereby the identity of the individual wearing it is hidden.
In case you are wondering how that came to be, it does not have magic involved. But you can always count on science. The coat at a glance looks pretty similar to a regular camouflage garment. Upon closer look, one can see a customized pattern designed by an algorithm that blinds the camera. The coat is also embedded with a thermal device that emits varying heat temperatures at night. This creates an unusual heat pattern that can deceive security cameras that use infrared thermal imaging during night.
Professor Wang Zheng led the project. The National Post reported him as saying, “Nowadays, many surveillance devices can detect human bodies.” He added, “Cameras on the road have pedestrian detection functions and smart cars can identify pedestrians, roads and obstacles. Our InvisDefense allows the camera to capture you, but it cannot tell if you are human.”
During the coat’s preliminary trials, the students tested it around the campus, on the security cameras available there. Their aim was to evade recognition. They found that there was a 57 percent reduction in the accuracy of pedestrian detection. But this was not the end of the development. They took upon the challenge to develop a coat that fooled both the human eye and cameras.
This has come in light of China’s recent wave of anti-lockdown protests. The country is known to have some of the world’s most advanced surveillance systems. Millions of these are set up on street corners and at the entrance of buildings. The police use it to track dissidents, ethnic minorities and migrant workers. During the recent protest, many were arrested using facial recognition technology.
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