Chinese graduate students have reportedly invented an “invisible cloak” that can hide the human body, day or night, from security cameras monitored by artificial intelligence (AI). Their invention, called the ‘InvisDefense coat’, can be seen through human eyes, but is covered in a pattern that can blind cameras in the daytime and has heat-generating elements to fool infrared cameras at night, said a report in the South China Morning Post.
Professor Wang Zheng of the school of computer science at Wuhan University oversaw the project.
“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,” Professor Wang said, as per the report.
InvisDefense has a specially designed camouflage pattern on its surface that can interfere with the recognition algorithm of machine vision, thus blinding the camera which cannot recognise the wearer as human. A surveillance camera basically detects human bodies through their movement and contour recognition (locating the borders of an object).
During the nighttime, the InvisDefense coat creates an unusual temperature pattern that confuses the camera, which generally tracks human bodies through infrared thermal imaging.
“The most difficult part is the balance of the camouflage pattern. 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, ” the SCMP report quoted Wei Hui, a PhD student on the team, who was responsible for the core algorithm.
Wei said the team used algorithms to design the least conspicuous patterns that can disable computer vision. The InvisDefense costs less than 500 yuan (US$70).
“InvisDefense might also be used in anti-drone combat or human-machine confrontation on the battlefield,” said Wei, said the report.
The students won first prize for their invention in a creative work contest on November 27. The event was sponsored by Huawei Technologies Co as part of the China Postgraduate Innovation and Practice Competitions.
Their project will also be presented at the AAAI-23 conference which will be held in Washington in February 2023. Held annually, AAAI is one of the leading international academic conference in the field of artificial intelligence.