Wandering around the SHOT show this year, I managed to find a few interesting things, but the reality is that the industry moves extremely slowly. I would argue that the gun industry as a whole hasn’t changed all that much over the last 100 years. Everyone is trying to market the next gizmo for the AR platform, which seems kind of silly when we have the technology to develop directed energy weapons, or at least cartridge-less ammunition. We’ll see what the future will bring, but there was one company I met with which is truly attempting innovations in military technology.
Hyperstealth is a Canadian company which develops camouflage patterns for military uniforms, aircraft, buildings, and anything else that needs to stay hidden. The CEO, Guy Cramer, developed the technology in 2010, which can render a person (or object) invisible. Cramer’s claims have often been met with skepticism as the demonstrations of the technology he has developed are held behind closed doors, and little tangible proof of what he called “Quantum Stealth” has been released to the public. I’ve always been cautiously optimistic myself, and after a few years of cajoling Cramer, he showed me a video that demonstrates the technology.
The first video I watched was of Cramer walking behind what appeared to be a blind. The material reflected the background behind it, in this case a wall, as the demonstration was filmed in a well-lit room. As Cramer walks behind the blind, he simply disappears. Then he pops out on the other side of the blind and is visible again.
(“Thermoptic” camouflage, as shown in the classic cyber-punk film, Ghost in the Shell. Now, this technology appears to be just around the corner.)
As I viewed several other videos, it was interesting to see that environmental conditions appear to effect how well Quantum Stealth works. With different background colors and poor lighting, you could sometimes make something out moving around behind the material. However, even under these adverse conditions, Cramer’s invention appeared to deliver the goods: rendering the person or object 95-98% percent invisible with just a few flashes of color moving from behind the blind.
Another video was shot using a thermal lens, and this is where things got even more interesting. How well did Quantum Stealth mask thermal signatures? 100% as near as I could tell from watching the film. Another video showed the technology filmed in the IR spectrum with a night vision lens. Quantum Stealth appeared to be even more effective in the IR spectrum than it was with unaided vision. Suffice it to say that I was impressed.
Another demonstration video showed the 360 degree application of Quantum Stealth. The material was made into a roll, forming a cylinder around a pencil which was placed inside. The camera moved all the way around the cylinder and I had no idea that there was a pencil in the center.
But how does it work? Cramer won’t elaborate on the details, for understandable reasons, but it works by bending light around the subject that is hiding behind it. The technology is passive, meaning no energy source, no mirrors, and no projectors.
But what are its military applications? Right now Cramer has a really cool science experiment, but he needs to adapt the technology so that it can be put on military uniforms or applied to vehicles. What I saw in the video was the first generation of the technology, and Guy says he has already developed the second generation, with the third currently in the works.
I would not be surprised if Cramer’s Quantum Stealth was soon bought and absorbed into some classified project by the Pentagon. Over the last few years, Cramer has shown the technology to various US Special Operations and Command elements, so the interest is there.
When I tried to describe what I saw in the video to a friend, they said, “So it is like Predator?” referring to the Predator films in which the villainous alien can turn transparent and blend into the jungle or city.
My honest answer: “No, actually it is a whole lot better.”
(Featured Image Courtesy: Wired)