Cloak yourself with stealth wear

CAMOUFLAGE: Mr Adam Harvey, a design professor at the School of Visual Arts, has designed a hairstyling and make-up program which aims to keep cameras from recognising one's face.
Cloak yourself with stealth wear

HIDE YOUR HEAT: This jacket is made of reflective fabric that reduces one's thermal footprint, limiting one's visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles that use heat-imaging cameras to track people.


    Jul 02, 2013

    Cloak yourself with stealth wear

    FLYING surveillance cameras, facial-recognition technology and wearable devices like Google Glass, which can be used to take photographs and videos.

    All these are enough to make countersurveillance fashion as timely and pertinent as any seasonal trend, like midriff tops or wedge sneakers.

    Mr Adam Harvey, an artist and design professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York and an early creator of stealth wear - clothing and accessories designed to protect the wearer from detection and surveillance - has created a number of stealth-wear designs and prototypes.

    His work includes a series of hoodies and cloaks that use reflective, metallic fabric that he has repurposed to reduce a person's thermal footprint.

    In theory, this limits one's visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground.

    He also developed a purse with extra-bright LEDs that can be activated when someone is taking unwanted pictures - the effect is to reduce an intrusive photograph to a washed-out blur.

    In addition, he created a guide for hairstyling and make-up application that might keep a camera from recognising the person beneath the elaborate get-up.

    Mr Harvey isn't the only one working on such products.

    The National Institute of Informatics in Japan has developed a visor outfitted with LEDs whose light isn't visible to the wearer, but that would blind some camera sensors and blur the details of a wearer's nose and eyes more effectively than a pair of sunglasses.

    Mr Harvey likened his work and that of others to the invention of the rivet in denim jeans.

    Stealth wear, he said, is an "updated way of thinking about making your clothes more resistant to your environment and adapting them to protect you a little bit more".

    But these designers face a challenge: Although technology has inspired some new fabrics and materials, high-tech fashion of any kind has yet to really take off.

    Ms Becky Stern, an artist and the director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries, a company in New York that sells do-it-yourself electronic kits, said: "There simply isn't much of a market for tech-savvy haute couture."

    Ms Stern said that a few years ago, clothing embedded with illuminated lights was relatively popular, but that interest later declined.

    However, Mr Jan Chipchase, executive creative director of global insights at Frog Design, said he sees tremendous potential for an eventual stealth-wear market.

    He described current prototypes as "provocations", and said they raise "issues that are impacting our cities and public spaces that need more discussion and debate."

    Mr Harvey's items have not yet been thoroughly tested by intelligence firms or security experts.

    Most are still concepts and are not ready for mass production. But he said he hoped that awareness of his designs might "empower you to control your identity a little more".