MaterialDistrict

Anyone can be invisible with this invisibility shield

London-based startup Invisibility Shield Co. created – you guessed it – functioning invisibility shields, “turning science fiction into reality and make them available for everyone.”

Everyone has probably dreamed one time or another what it would be like to be invisible, and what they would do if they had this superpower – whether for good or for evil. Invisibility Shield has developed an affordable shield to make this possible for anyone.

The shield uses a precision engineered lens array to direct much of the light reflected from the subject away from the observer, sending it sideways across the face of the shield to the left and right. Because the lenses are vertically oriented, the vertically oriented strip of light reflected by a subject becomes very diffuse when spread out horizontally. On the other hand, the light reflected from the background is much brighter and wider, so when it passes through the back of the shield, far more of it is refracted both across the shield and towards the observer. From the observer’s perspective, this background light is ‘smeared’ horizontally across the front face of the shield, over the area where the subject would ordinarily be seen.

The optical arrays the company used to make the shields are created by extruding and then embossing a polymer to form sheets of elongate, convex lenses running in parallel. In order for these sheets to manipulate light in the right way to create functional invisibility shields, the lenses must have specific shape and be formed with very high precision. Invisibility Shield tested a variety of different lens shapes and optical mounting techniques. Their solution, which was essential for making the shields as low cost as possible, preserves 98% of the optical properties of the arrays and completely eliminates the need for toxic resins that might ordinarily be used in such a build.

The shields perform at their best against uniform backgrounds such as foliage, grass, and walls. Backgrounds with defined horizontal lines work well too. Don’t expect to be able to sneak up on people with this shield, though, unless they do not find it suspicious as a slightly blurry square piece of horizon creeps closer.

The invisibility shield is currently available on Kickstarter in two sizes, a small one of 31.5 x21 cm (12”x8”) to hide small objects, and a large one of 95x65x25 (lxbxd, 3’1”x2’1”). The shield is lightweight and made of recyclable marine grade materials. As of writing, the project reached nearly 8,000% of their goal.

In 2019, we reported on a similar project, focused on mainly military purposes. Read more about this here.

Images: Invisibility Shield Co.

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