Active camouflage technology reaches maturity (part of 2)

Technological issues


Some proposed active camouflage systems have cameras installed directly on the masked object, and some systems have remote IR cameras. If the system scheme is such that the camera should be installed directly on the masked object, then one restriction is imposed - the camera must either be actively camouflaged or be small enough. Currently, many microcamera models are available to consumers, of which some commercial miniature color cameras may be suitable for certain types of active camouflage systems.

Resolution and imaging

When determining the required display resolution, it is necessary to take into account the distance from the display to the viewer. If the observer is only 2 meters, then the resolution should not exceed the detail of human vision at this distance, that is, approximately 289 pixels per cm2. If the observer is on (which is usually), then the resolution can be made lower without compromising the quality of the disguise.

In addition, the visualization should take into account how the field of view of observers changes depending on the distance at which they are located from the screen. For example, a person looking at a display from a distance of 20 meters may see more of what is behind the display compared to a person located at a distance of 5 meters. Consequently, the system must determine where the observer is looking from in order to adjust the image or the size of the image and determine its edges.

One visualization solution is to create an 3-D digital model of the surrounding space. It is assumed that the digital model will be created in real time, since it is most likely that it would be inappropriate to simulate the real world locations ahead of time. A stereoscopic pair of cameras will allow the system to determine the location, color and brightness. The process, called visualization by the method of a running beam, is proposed with the goal of converting the model to an 2-D image on the display.

Active camouflage technology reaches maturity (part of 2)
New woven nanocomposite materials created using magnetic and electric fields in order to achieve the exact position of functional nanoparticles inside and outside the polymer fibers. These nanofibers can be tailored to obtain such properties as, for example, matching the color and control of signatures in the near-IR spectrum for active camouflage applications.

Schematic representation of active camouflage used to disguise a person standing in front of a group of people


Flexible display technologies have been developed for over 20 years. Numerous methods have been proposed in an attempt to create a more flexible, durable, cheap display that also has adequate resolution, contrast, color, viewing angle and refresh rate. Currently, developers of flexible displays are exploring consumer requirements to determine the most appropriate technology instead of offering the only best solution for all applications. The list of available solutions includes retroreflective projection technology RPT (Retro-reflective Projection Technology), organic OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) LEDs, LCD LCD displays (Liquid Crystal Displays), Thin Film Transistor thin-film transistors and E-Paper electronic paper .

Modern standard displays (including flexible ones) are intended only for direct viewing. Consequently, a system must also be developed so that the image can be clearly seen from different angles. One solution would be a display based on an array of hemispherical lenses. Also, depending on the position of the sun and the observer, the display may be much brighter or darker than the surrounding space. If there are two observers, you need two different levels of brightness.

In connection with all these factors, there are high expectations from the future development of nanotechnology.

Technological limitations

Currently, numerous technological constraints constrain the production of active camouflage systems for soldier systems. Although some of these limitations have been actively overcome with the intended solution for 5 - 15 years (for example, flexible displays), there are still a few noticeable obstacles that still need to be overcome. Some of them are listed below.

Display brightness. One of the limitations of display-based active camouflage systems is the lack of brightness to work in daylight conditions. The average brightness of a clear sky is 150 W / m2 and most of the displays look empty in full daylight. A brighter display will be needed (with luminescence close to that at a traffic light), which is not a requirement in other areas of development (for example, computer monitors and information displays should not be so bright). Consequently, the brightness of the displays can be the direction that will restrain the development of active camouflage. In addition, the sun is 230000 times more intense than the surrounding sky. Displays should be designed equal in brightness to the sun so that when the system passes in front of the sun it does not look hazy or have some shadows.

Computing power. The main limitations of active image management and its constant updating for the purpose of continuous updating (invisibility) for the human eye are that it requires powerful software and a large memory size in the control microprocessors. Also, if we consider that we consider the 3-D model, which should be built in real time based on the methods of obtaining images from cameras, the software and characteristics of control microprocessors can become a major limitation. In addition, if we want this system to be autonomous and carried by a soldier, then the laptop should be light, small, and quite flexible.

Powered by batteries. If we take into account the brightness and size of the display, as well as the necessary computing power, then modern batteries are too heavy and quickly discharged. If this system is to be carried by a soldier on the battlefield, it is necessary to develop lighter, larger-capacity batteries.
Position of cameras and projectors. If we consider the RPT technology, then a significant limitation is that cameras and projectors will need to be positioned in advance, and only for one observer of the enemy, and that this observer will need to be positioned in the exact position in front of the camera. It is unlikely that all this will be respected on the battlefield.

Camouflage becomes digital

In anticipation of exotic technologies that will make it possible to develop a true “invisibility cover”, the latest and significant progress in the field of camouflage is the introduction of so-called digital patterns.

“Digital camouflage” describes a micro pattern (micro-pattern) formed by a number of small rectangular pixels of various colors (ideally up to six, but usually for reasons of no more than four cost). These micro patterns can be hexagonal or round or quadrangular; they are reproduced in various sequences over the entire surface, be it fabric or plastic or metal. Different patterned surfaces are similar to digital dots that form a holistic image of digital photography, but they are organized in such a way as to blur the shape and shape of an object.

Marines in MARPAT military forest uniforms

In theory, this is much more effective camouflage compared to standard camouflage macropatterns based on large spots, due to the fact that it mimics the variegated structures and rough boundaries found in the natural environment. This is based on how the human eye, and accordingly the brain, interacts with the pixel images. Digital camouflage is better able to confuse or deceive the brain that does not notice the pattern, or to make the brain see only a certain part of the pattern so that the actual outlines of the soldier are not distinguishable. However, for real work, the pixels must be calculated by the equations of very complex fractals, which allow to obtain non-repeating patterns. The formulation of such equations is not an easy task and therefore digital camouflage patterns are always protected by patents. First introduced by Canadian armed forces as CADPAT and the US Marine Corps as MARPAT, digital camouflage from that time took the market by storm and was adopted by many armies around the world. It is interesting to note that neither CADPAT nor MARPAT are available for export, despite the fact that the USA has no problems selling fairly sophisticated weapons systems.

Comparison between conventional and digital camouflage patterns for a combat vehicle

Canadian CAPDAT template (forest version), MARPAT template for marines (desert version) and new Singapore template

The company Advanced American Enterprise (AAE) announced the improvement of the wearable active / adaptive camouflage "blanket" (in the photo). The device under the designation Stealth Technology System (STS) is available in the visible range and near infrared range. But this statement, however, causes a significant degree of skepticism.

Currently, there is another approach ... Researchers from Renseleier University and Rice obtained the darkest material ever created by man. The material is a thin coating consisting of discharged arrays of freely aligned carbon nanotubes; it has a total reflectance of 0,045%, i.e. absorbs 99,955% of the light incident on it. As such, the material comes very close to the so-called “super black” object, which may be virtually invisible. The photo shows how the new material with the reflectivity 0,045% (in the center) is much darker than the 1,4% reflectivity standard of NIST (left) and a piece of vitreous carbon (right)

Hack and predictor Aviator

Active camouflage systems for infantry could greatly assist in covert operations, especially given that military operations in urban space are becoming increasingly prevalent. Traditional camouflage systems retain one color and shape, however, in urban space, optimal colors and patterns can constantly change every minute.

The desire for only one possible active camouflage system is not sufficiently adequate to carry out the necessary and expensive development of display technology, computing power and battery power. However, due to the fact that all this will be required in other applications, it is quite predictable that the industry can develop technologies that can be easily adapted for active camouflage systems in the future.

In the meantime, simpler systems can be developed that do not result in perfect stealth. For example, a system that actively updates the approximate color will be more useful than existing camouflage systems, regardless of whether the ideal image is displayed. Also, given that the active camouflage system can be most justified when the position of the observer is precisely known, it can be assumed that in the earliest decisions a single fixed camera or detector can be used for camouflage. However, a large number of sensors and detectors that are not working in the visible spectrum are currently available. A thermal microbolometer or a sensitive sensor, for example, can easily identify an object masked by visual active camouflage.

Materials used:
Military Technology
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  1. Freeway
    1 July 2014 08: 26
    Just like a "predator" good
    1. +2
      1 July 2014 11: 29
      Quote: Freeway
      Just like

      Well, there are a lot of films in which the idea of ​​"obscene" camouflage was revealed.
      And mania with smearing open areas of the body, too, everything is expanding.
      But, to the tricks of nature and to this day, as to the moon.
      Thank you for both articles.
  2. Bormental
    1 July 2014 10: 01
    Another sawing project. Modern wars are waged by a crowd of homeless people with AK and completely brainwashed, who do not need to pay, you know, shout more often "Allah Akbar", or "Glory to Ukraine".
    1. +1
      1 July 2014 10: 49
      Quote: Bormental
      Another loot-saw project.

      100%. reminds of a story about "anti-radiation" paint.
    2. +3
      1 July 2014 12: 42
      ... Only they do not live long.
      And if you want to return from the war alive - apply and
      disguise, and all the modern gadgets that creak,
      but are being introduced.
  3. +8
    1 July 2014 11: 43
    Dutch scientists have developed a camouflage color when looking at which the enemy begins to bleed from his eyes.
  4. +1
    1 July 2014 11: 45
    Yes, technology is evolving. We must now somehow find them
  5. +4
    1 July 2014 12: 56
    The standard equipment of the marines in the first photo is interesting.
    One has a light machine gun, the other has an M-4 with 4x wide-focus
    Stores on the stomach are not very convenient: they prevent me from crawling, we were on our sides.
    And the spare pouches in the back of them are low and poorly fixed - they will cling to the bushes.
    We firmly fixed on the back above.
    1. +4
      1 July 2014 14: 30
      They only wear on the chest in the city, that is, you change the store a little faster, but it is not supposed to crawl, although where to crawl on them if it’s already painful without armor)
      Well this is the super advanced and over-trained US military, let's not destroy the illusion.
      I liked the almost non-reflective material, I need khaki, stay in the shade and you won’t be noticed)
    2. 0
      2 July 2014 21: 43
      soldier So the whole point is about the name "Marine"! wink
    3. jonh
      3 July 2014 19: 24
      Well, I don’t know about the side pouches. only the moth system implies a rigid fastening of all pouches. and about the shops on the chest. it’s convenient for everyone so everything can be fixed depending on the task being solved. You most likely used RPS.
    4. 0
      14 July 2014 10: 31
      and why should they ... they’re not accustomed to contact combat ... the drone flew over, worked up the plot and the poop was gone ... as far as I saw the video with the fire clash of the Americans, they not only didn’t crawl anywhere, their asses were pretty hard to drag and after art. a raid .. in Chechnya at one time, too, threw off unloading with bibs and hung 2 standard pouches on a belt on the sides and made shoulder straps from harnesses of a harness ... and cheap and convenient ...
  6. +6
    1 July 2014 19: 47
    Active camouflage has not yet come out of the experiment phase and is unlikely to appear in the form of a complete technical solution. One of the sensors is not enough here, an electron-optical camouflage support system is needed, apparently built into the general command and control system. I'm afraid that I will have to wait a long time. If this method of disguise is used for small groups, like anti-terrorist ones, then it is better to consult with direct participants in the events, whether it will be convenient for them in such suits and whether it is advisable to have them on arms ii. For widespread use in the army, this problem is not worth it today, there is not so much money in the budget, however, funds can be found for experimental research, including on a completely black body. In the Russian version, it is advisable to have 3-4 camouflage suits for each fighter given their seasonal application.