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Innovations In Electro-Optical Camouflage PROJECT CHAMELEO Richard N. Schowengerdt Lev I. Berger - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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PROPRIETARY - SENSITIVE -. Project Chameleo. Approved for public released; distribution is unlimited. Innovations In Electro-Optical Camouflage PROJECT CHAMELEO Richard N. Schowengerdt Lev I. Berger Joint Venture - Questant Enterprises, Costa Mesa, California

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Project Chameleo

Approved for public released;

distribution is unlimited



Electro-Optical Camouflage


Richard N. Schowengerdt

Lev I. Berger

Joint Venture - Questant Enterprises, Costa Mesa, California

California Institute of Electronics & Materials Science, Hemet, California

Presented At

2005 MSS Parallel Symposium

14-18 Feb 2005

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Project Chameleo

Why Is The Chameleon Our Mascot?

The lizard of the genus Chameleo

possesses the remarkable ability of

changing color to blend in with the background -

this ability is related to the temperature of the background objects

and emotional state of the chameleon

Chameleon photo courtesy of Barnaby Bigglesworth

site at

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Background and State-of-the-art in Visual Camouflage

  • Recent developments in microchip sensor and display technology

  • now make it feasible to cloak physical objects at reasonable cost

  • Concealment of object by providing the illusion of transparency

    • Law enforcement and military applications

    • Protection of national resources such as industrial facilities

      • Reduction of security forces

      • Variable reflectivity of certain components could help

      • to heat or cool a facility

    • Environmental enhancement of office spaces by projecting

    • artificial scenes on the walls without the need for windows

Project Chameleo

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Project Chameleo

  • The dream of invisibility has long been a subject of fiction

  • and sometimes fact and fiction have been commingled

  • i.e. in the “The Philadelphia Experiment” 1

    • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, 1897, movie 1933

    • The Shadow Radio Program, 1936-54

    • Startrek TV Program, 1980 & On

    • The Predator, 1987

    • Memoirs of An Invisible Man, 1992

    • Die Another Day, 2002

  • The dream may soon become a reality with advancement

  • of technology - New devices and materials such as active-pixel

  • sensor/display units and nonspecular composite skins

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Project Chameleo

Object Being Concealed Behind Shield

With Background Projected On Shield 2

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Project Chameleo

Exploded View Of Basic Concept


10 - Cloaking System 12 - Digital Signal Processor 14 - Background

16 - Sensor or Camera 18 - Background Image Matrix 20 - Data Bus

22 - Synthetic Image Matrix 24 - Shield or Display 26 - Synthetic Image

28 - Direction of Observation 30 - Object Concealed

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Project Chameleo

Synthetic Digital Image of Object Concealed Behind TV

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Project Chameleo

Project Yehudi Revisited

During WWII the visual concealment of a dive bomber

by using a series of lights along its leading edges was

conceived: a few seconds deception would be enough

to enable the bomber to release its depth charges and

destroy a surfaced submarine before the submarine was

able to submerge

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Project Chameleo

  • Where are we today?

  • Need adaptive camouflage as present methods are

  • generally limited to painting, coloring, and/or contour shaping

  • Unclassified Public Literature Sources Only

    • Project Yehudi during WWII

    • Electrochromatic paints on a Warthog in the 1990s

    • Project Chameleo at AOC Fiestacrow in 1993 3 & APS Centennial

    • in 1999 4

    • JPL disclosure of active-pixel sensor/display in 2000 5

    • Professor Susumu Tachi Tokyo University

    • in 2003, “The Invisible Man” 6

    • Army Natick Soldier Center (NSC) - Future Warrior’s

    • suit will exhibit a “chameleonic” change to blend in with

    • the background 7

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Technology Shield Processor Sensor Data Bus P LOM




Project Chameleo

Table I - Suggested Alternative Developmental Technologies

Relative Performance and Maturity Levels

OE LCD * DG SD DG 2 10

Combinations of above could vary depending upon circumstances

* Other current shields (displays) are electroluminescent and plasma


OE – Optoelectronic, DG – Digital, PT – Photonic,

LCD - Liquid Crystal Display CCDC = Charge-Coupled Device Camera

SD = Sensor/Display FO = Fiber-OpticFOM = Fiber Optic Matrix

HG = HolographicHGP = Holographic Projection

P = Performance 1 = Low 2 = Medium 3 = High 4 = Highest

LOM = Level of achievable maturity by year post 2005 - Related to below eras

Immediate < 5 yearsNear Term - 2010-2020Far Term - 2020-2040

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Spiral Development Most Economical

Way To Achieve Goals


$ B



High cost

early on

Staged Increments

to allow technology

growth and take

advantage of



Efficient learning



  • Police &

  • Combat

  • platforms


  • Rudimentary

  • moving platforms


  • Stationary platforms

  • Immediate low risk applications - Environmental enhancement


2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030


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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Oil Well Island In Long Beach, California

Present Condition

Environmentally Camouflaged By Artificial Buildings

Some Immediate Applications - 2005 - 2009

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Some Immediate Applications - 2005 – 2009

ROM Estimates – Architect/Engineer/Construction/Material costs – 2005 Dollars

Depends upon area to cover, distance, pixel size, etc.

Oil well island camouflaged by 8 Chameleo

screens - add one or two more and the island disappears

Screens could also be used for artificial scenery if desired

ROM Est. - $300-450K

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Some Immediate Applications - 2005 - 2009

Actual outdoor scene or artificial

scene such as crashing waves

projected on the wall - complete

with soft sound of waves if desired

Environmental Office Enhancement

ROM Est. - $30-50K per wall depending on size

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

  • Some Near-Term (2010--2020) Applications

  • 5 years from today a working prototype could be made available

  • ROM Estimates – Nonrecurring Development Costs Only - 2005 Dollars

  • Portable Shield For Urban Warfare - Medium Risk - $500K-700K

  • Portable Garage - Medium Risk - $600-800K

  • Covert Command & Control Center - Medium Risk - $1-1.5B

  • Covert Security Outposts - Medium Risk - $700K-$1B

  • Disappearing Car - Single Plane Only Test Bed - $300K-500K

  • Needed for technology transition to moving platforms

  • Covert Balloon Transport - Medium To High Risk - $700K-$1B

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Portable Shield For Urban Warfare Bus P LOM

Military Camouflage Application

Captain, I don’t see anything

except a tall building and

a red car

over there...

Observer line of sight

Digital Processor


Enemy Observer

Portable Shield - Could be either flat or semicircular screen depending upon distance to observer and other tactical considerations

Project Chameleo

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The Portable Garage Bus P LOMCovert BalloonTransport


Observers from any direction will see

the scene directly opposite them in wide angle mode -

Numbers above keyed to chart below

Project Chameleo

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

24 - Shield Display

16 - Sensors

Shield sections slide open for satellite operations and close when threats appear

30 - Command & Control Center Satellite Comm


Side View

Sphere boundary edge and mismatch shown for emphasis – as shield is activated initial mismatch occurs followed by perfect matching with forest background

Top View

Spherical Dome Covering Covert Command & Control Center

In Mountainous Forest Area

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Retractable Hook Assembly Bus P LOM

For airlifting by helicopter

Two-man Cylindrical Outpost One Man Rectangular Outpost

Covert Security Outposts

Project Chameleo

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Disappearing Car - Test Bed


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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Cloaking System Is Activated


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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Car Disappears


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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

  • Some Far-Term (2020-2040) Applications

  • High Risk Moving Platforms

  • ROM Estimates – Nonrecurring Development Costs Only – 2005 Dollars

  • Most economical approach would be through spiral development,

  • from stationary to moving platforms, with increasing difficulty

    • DuoUnit Stalker Police Vehicle – $2-2.5B

    • LQD Liquidator For Military Penetration - $5-10B

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

DuoUnit Stalker LQD Liquidator For Military Penetration

Police Vehicle

Advanced Tactical Vehicles

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

  • Inherent Physical Problems With Cloaking An Object

  • Parametrical design considerations

    • Resolution Factors

      • Parallax, View angle and range dependency, Tilt angle, and

      • Perspective

    • Reflections and Glint

  • Parameters were treated in depth by Schowengerdt and Schweizer in

  • 1993 8 - Parallax is most critical and is summarized below and on next page

    • Angular resolution, A, is basically a function of the wavelength, ,

    • and the diameter, d, of the observer’s aperture (A = /d )

      •  = 500 nm for the effective central wavelength of visible light

      • For human eye, A = 1 minute of arc = 0.0003 radian

      • For 10 inch (25 cm) diameter telescope, A = 0.000002 radian

    • Minimum range of an object necessary to escape detection is a

    • function of the observer’s resolution, distance of the object from the

    • observer, the distance of the object from the background, and lateral

    • motion of the observer necessary to detect the target 9 (See next

    • page)

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM


Parallax Problem

Using the trigonometric relationships below one may solve for various

factors. For example, if an observer with naked eye moves his head

laterally by only 1 foot, he will be unable to distinguish a camouflaged

object from a background 10 feet behind it, provided that the

concealed object is at a range of more than 180 feet from the

observer. If the background object is 20 feet behind the object,

then the range from the concealed object to the observer must

be at least 250 feet. If the observer has a ten-inch telescope,

then the minimum ranges become 2,200 and 3,200 feet respectively












X = minimum lateral motion of observer necessary to detect


R = distance or range from observer to target

D = distance from target to background plane

T = position of target (concealed object)

B = location of object in background plane behind target

when observer is at Origin (O)

O = original position of observer before moving to X

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Fragility, Reflections, and Glint

Reflections from sun and ambient light

will reveal presence of cloaked object

Also, most current displays are very fragile -

Need to develop a tough composite nonspecular shield that absorbs rays

from the sun and ambient light - could also be combined with radar & sonar

absorbent coatings - material should be amorphous and porous,

similar in appearance to anechoic chamber material

Estimated near term achievement (2010-2020)

Example Only - Inactivated

state color should be close to

background color - When

activated surface first glitters,

then becomes invisible

Sensor/Display modules could be embedded within porous openings and coated with radar & sonar absorbent materials

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Design, development, test & evaluation problems associated with stationary platforms beyond 1,000 feet

Design, development, test & evaluation problems associated with moving platforms beyond 1,000 feet

Probability of detection


Probability of detection

using special sensors

using special sensors

beyond 1,000 feet for

beyond 1,000 feet for

stationary cloaked

moving cloaked





Probability of

Probability of

detection with

detection with

naked eye beyond

naked eye beyond

1,000 feet for

1,000 feet for

stationary cloaked

moving cloaked






Risk Identification
















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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Risk Mitigation


A. Limit near-term designs to scenarios where

distance from observer to cloaked object is

1,000 feet or more and distance from cloaked

object to background is 100 feet or less – Use

nonspecular shield material to reduce glint.

This will result in reducing these risks to


B. (1) Choose optimum pixel size, type, and

shape; (2) Consider monochromatic, mottled,

or dazzled patterns in lieu of actual back-

ground; (3) Employ software control to blur

or fuzz the edges of the cloaked object to

reduce the probability of edge detection

(4) Reduce distance from the cloaked object

to the background to 50 feet or less

Such measures should reduce the risk of

being detected by an aided observer to yellow

Physical Design


Resolution, view angle,

range dependency,

parallax, tilt angle, edge

effects, and perspective;

Glint from surface of


A. Unaided Observer

(naked eye)

B. Aided Observer


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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM


Risk Mitigation

Detection of infrared

and ultraviolet

radiation from

cloaked object using

IR or UV sensors

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM


Risk Mitigation

  • A. Careful selection of pixel size, type, and shape and

  • use of radar absorbent materials in the structure and

  • coatings over display apertures wherever possible

  • will reduce the radar signature.

  • B. Sonar and audio sensor detection can be reduced

  • by large amounts of padding between shield and

  • cloaked object.

  • C. In case of high threat consider sonar and radar

  • range gate “walk-off” techniques as well as

  • augmented robots to divert attention

Detection of

mass, sound

or vibration

using radar,

sonar, or

audio sensors

Detection of spectral

or polarization


using color filters


Detection usingvideo

strobing techniques

Spectral characteristics and polarization of an object

can now be simulated by the use of low energy emitters

on the shield

Use of asynchronous or random activation of pixels

on shield will reduce this risk to green

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

  • Conclusions

    • The dream of invisibility in the visual light spectrum can finally

    • become a reality through the usage of advanced sensor/display

    • modules, active matrix liquid crystal displays, plasma displays,

    • and development of nonspecular shields to reduce glint

    • Immediate no risk applications at reasonable costs existfor cloaking

    • systems for environmental enhancement such as “dressing up”

    • unattractive industrial facilities, introducing inspirational and

    • stimulating office scenery on walls, and energy savings through

    • security force reduction and emission control

    • Medium to high risk development of electro-optical camouflage is

    • feasible at moderate costs in the near-term (2010-2020) as a means of

    • sufficiently cloaking many stationary and some moving platforms

    • such as the Covert Balloon Transport

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

  • Conclusions (Continued)

  • Cloaking systems will have operating limits set by the anticipated

  • resolution of the observer, distance from observer, distance of

  • object to background, lighting conditions, and required dynamic

  • range

  • The operating limits can be optimized by increased sophistication

  • in risk management and design. Also, artificial scenes or dazzle

  • patterns may be used when depiction of the actual background

  • poses special problems and digital algorithms may be employed to

  • sense such difficulties and activate appropriate scenes or patterns

  • In the far-term (2020-2040), high risk, high cost, development of

  • electro-optical cloaking systems will enable the successful

  • accomplishment of law enforcement and military missions that require

  • penetration of vehicles or equipment into dangerous areas

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

Conclusions (Continued)

  • Cost of far-term projects could be dramatically reduced by a time-

  • phased spiral development plan, progressing slowly from

  • stationary platforms to moving platforms of increasing size and

  • complexity

  • Ultimately, the probable success of many such missions will justify

  • the investments in advanced electro-optical camouflage

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Project Chameleo Bus P LOM

  • Notes

  • 1. Internet Magazine October 1998, The Philadelphia Experiment.

  • 2. Cloaking System Using Optoelectronically Controlled Camouflage, U.S.

  • Patent No. 5,307,162 dated 26 April 1994 by Richard N. Schowengerdt

  • 3. “Project Chameleo - Cloaking Using Electro-Optical Camouflage,” by

  • Richard N. Schowengerdt and Felix Schweizer, Association of Old Crows

  • Fiestacrow Symposium, San Antonio, April 1993.

  • 4. “Physical Aspects of Electro-Optical Camouflage,” by Richard N.

  • Schowengerdt and Lev I. Berger, American Physical Society Centennial,

  • Atlanta, March 1999.

  • 5. “Adaptive Camouflage,” by Philip Moynihan of Caltech & Maurice Langevin

  • of Tracer Round Associates, Ltd., for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

  • 6. “Invisible Man, Japanese Scientist Invents Invisibility Coat,” BBC World

  • News Edition,18 February 2003.

  • 7. Future Warrior 2025 Info Paper, Mar 2001, page 6.

  • 8. Schowengerdt & Schweizer, pages 53-57.

  • 9. Ibid, page 54.

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    Questions ? Bus P LOM