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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Chinese students invent invisibility cloak to hide from cameras

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Chinese university students have created a hi-tech coat that allows the wearer to be “invisible” by baffling security cameras.

Special camouflage means the wearer is not recognised as a human by artificial intelligence, and it has the potential to transform the modern battlefield.

A team at Wuhan University created the InvisDefense so that people could stealthily evade security camera systems controlled by artificial intelligence, The Sun reports.

Unlike in Harry Potter, magic is not behind the invisibility.

It looks like a normal coat to human eyes, but advanced algorithms create patterns that camouflage the wearer from the eagle eyes of machines.

By day, the patterns work to blind AI cameras, while at night the coat emits heat signals to confuse infra-red cameras.

The groundbreaking coat also has the potential to obscure some detection systems in self-driving cars.

However, it wouldn’t fool human surveillance camera operators or human drivers.

Professor Wang Zheng, who oversaw the project, told the South China Morning Post: “Nowadays, many surveillance devices can detect human bodies.

“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.”

It’s the first of its kind to avoid public pedestrian detection and it took the team over 700 failures to get it just right.

It then took home first place in a Huawei Technology contest and will be presented at the AAAI 2023 AI Conference in the US in February.

The dream coat, in all of its technical beauty, would also be cheap.

Wei Hui, the mastermind PhD student behind the coat’s crazy algorithm, has estimated each one would only cost 500 yuan ($105).

But its true appeal is that the coat stands out in its industry by being able to blend in.

“Traditionally, researchers used bright images to interfere with machine vision and it did work … but it stands out to human eyes, making the user even more conspicuous,” explained Wei Hui.

“We use algorithms to design the least conspicuous patterns that can disable computer vision.”

For military purposes, the “invisibility cloak” holds huge significance.

If the coat’s technology was used in uniforms, soldiers could theoretically avoid detection by drones or AI-controlled units – changing the modern battlefield. Researchers may also be able to use the Wuhan team’s new creation to fix existing loopholes and faults in AI and recognition technologies.

Originally published as China creates Harry Potter invisibility cloak that hides people from cameras

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