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Military Disappearing Act

Camouflage via computerized landscape painting
  (+3, -2)
(+3, -2)
  [vote for,

The hardware needed would be flexible or moldable LCD panels mounted on tanks and other military equipment and mini-video cameras placed at the panel junctions. The cameras would record the background view to be displayed by the panels on the opposing side.

Like the ribbed surface of a toy that shows two pictures when rotated, the LCD panels' surface and video input would ensure that different viewpoints would be presented with the correct views of the obscured background. To size the background reproduction to account for the viewer's distance from the vehicle would be more difficult to achieve, but this visual inconsistency would probably be negligible. Any background movements, such as trees blowing in the wind or caused by vehicle movement, would be faithfully replicated.

FarmerJohn, May 08 2002

OK, not the same, but similar... http://www.halfbake...m/idea/Fake_20Image
[yamahito, May 08 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(?) Someone must have heard of them http://www.halfbake...m/idea/www.eink.com
[bing, May 08 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(?) Someone must have heard of them http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/www.eink
[bing, Oct 21 2004]

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       This might be somewhat redundant, given the army these days tends to us more IR imaging to spot camouflaged enemies.
mcscotland, May 08 2002

       Whur's th' enemy, sarge?   

       Use your imagination, soldier!
yamahito, May 08 2002

       (Yes, yes, yes [yamahito] - first spelling mistake in a good month or so, and it gets picked up in less than five minutes.)
mcscotland, May 08 2002

       I'm not really sure that this is a new idea (although I don't expect it's baked as such).   

       Masmune Shirow's "Ghost in the Shell" uses what he calls "thermoptic camouflage" which worked on the same principles, although he applied it to androids in the main. There was a film of the same name directed by Mamoru Oshii.   

       Then there's the "predator movie," although I'm not sure if they ever explained how that worked. Plus, I think I remember seeing a similar idea somewhere in the HB...
yamahito, May 08 2002

       M: Ooooooh, look Akbar!
A: Where, Mustafahkar?
M: Up in the sky.
A: Where? I don't see anything.
M: Praise Allah, It's a Military Disappearing Act!
A & M: La Illah ha il Allah, May we be faithfully replicated in Paradise
thumbwax, May 08 2002

       The army is already envisioning a BDU (battle dress unit [=clothing]) like this for soldiers. And it is an idea that's been discussed here before. I think the viewpoint discrepancies will be enormous if you're trying to achieve "invisibility," but might not prevent an effective camouflage in many situations. One problem with LCD video displays is that they're pretty delicate for a battlefield environment, so even a small random bit of shrapnel could destroy the camouflage.
beauxeault, May 08 2002

       Fibre optic technology would be the way to go, i think.
yamahito, May 08 2002

       I've seen a (videotaped) demonstration where they just put a few strands of regular lightbulbs on a tank and when they were turned on the tank became *much* more difficult to see against the background. This was conducted in the daytime and in a desert environment.   

       A mirror that was angled so that it reflected the immediate foreground groundplain might work, too.
bristolz, May 08 2002

       [yamahito] - you have seen this idea, I posted it as an annotation to an article some time ago. I can't remember what the articlae was... was something to do with LCD but not sure.   

       A point I made then that I will repeat (cos I like repeating myself) is that LCD technology has now changed beyond all recognition. You can now get an LCD screen that has the appearence of a sheet of accetate like you would print on to do an OHP presentation.   

       The problems come in terms of backlights being very power consuming and that you can't hide a tanks shadow. Plus infra red would show it as a hotspot. Conventional camoflage would normally be far more effective on a tank.   

       There are some possible uses in this context though. For example, situation where the tank will be crossing very differing terrain. The image displayed wouldn't have to be exact, it could just display some standard camouflage for that terrain. Tank drives down black road, tank is black. Tank pulls off into desert, tank changes to sand colour. Would only really be usful when the tank stops though cos people would hear it when it was moving!   

       I'm voting FOR it cos it's a good idea. I should know I thought of it.
CasaLoco, May 08 2002

       Instead of LCD use one of those electical ink that supposed to replace paper. One advantage of that would be no energy is used to maintain the color. I am surprised the military has not immediatley see the camouflage usage when the technology came out.
bing, May 08 2002

       CasaLoco: You made some good points there. However, you *can* hide anything's shadow very easily. All you have to do is project light that is the correct intensity so as not to create a "random" brightspot on the ground into the shadow's area, thereby eliminating it.   

       I also think that LEDs should be used instead of LCDs, since they can now be made into hi-res screens like this. Here's why: LEDs are very bright for their size, produce almost no heat, and use very little energy for their brightness. That would solve most of the problems mentioned here, I think. Retrofit the tanks with external cooling systems to cool their skins and eliminate the rest of the hotspot. The moving-tank-noisemaking problem could be solved by relatively simple active noise-cancelling technology.
Bert6322, Aug 09 2002

       Just do it like they did in the Philidelphia Experiment... with a shitload of vaccuum tubes
Mr Burns, Aug 10 2002

       That's all we need, invisible bloody armies, which I know we have to a certain extent, but this is just unfair! like trying to play darts without board nor flights, (flashback to a visit i made to my mentally disabled uncle- I'm sure he was really laughing at me behind my back) We'll get to the point where I'll be able to say, //give me Bolivia, Bahamas and Ireland and I'll not use my invisible warheads on you//, and they really won't know for sure if I have any, hey, maybe that's what Saddam's got after all!
Borallah, Sep 06 2002

       Bristolz: There were planes in WWII that had a similar modification. Lights along the leading edge, and they were a lot harder to see until they got closer.   

       Radar was developed about the same time, so this came to little...   

       I saw a similar thing with tanks, on one of the Connection shows, I think...two tanks, one with a frame covered in lightbulbs...
StarChaser, Sep 07 2002

       Borallah: Saddam would probably love to get his hands on an agent to permanently blind the enemy making his own forces "invisible".   

       SC: Sort of like fighter aircraft keeping the sun behind them.
FarmerJohn, Sep 07 2002

       Not exactly. The idea there is that you can't look at the sun, and if you do, anything there will be overwhelmed by the brightness behind it. The bombers used lights to make the airplane match or nearly match the brightness of the sky behind it, making it harder to see because of the reduced contrast.
StarChaser, Sep 07 2002

       Need some help for those in this area of development.   

       I remember that RPI university in NY was working on a fabric that was to create an active crude camouflage for the military using fibre-optic mesh, but can't find any information about it. If anyone has heard of this grant project I would greatly appreciate the help. I contacted the School but have yet to receive any information, big surprize.   

       Thanks in advance.
icthulu, Oct 03 2002


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