We already have plenty of things that can hide a person’s feelings – a paper bag over the head will do that. A company in Germany claims to have invented a cloaking technique that can hide objects from a person’s sense of feeling or touch.
While not as exciting as a Harry Potter-esqe cloak of invisibility, the “Elastic Invisibility Cloak” announced this week by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhem Germany, is still an interesting variation on tools for hiding. The “cloak” is made of a crystalline polymer material (KIT calls it a metamaterial) that consists of needle-shaped cones whose tips meet. The size of the contact point is determined by calculations on the object to be hidden. Tiemo Buckmann described the process in the news release.
We build the structure around the object to be hidden. In this structure, strength depends on the location in a defined way. The precision of the components combined with the size of the complete arrangement was one of the big obstacles to the development of the mechanical invisibility cloak.
What does that mean? For one thing, the “cloak” does look anything like a cloak. The one described in the news release looks like a tiny plastic cushion. A half-cylinder was placed underneath it and could not be felt when the cushion was pressed on by a finger or a measuring device. Also, each cloak must be designed for a specific object using a mathematical inversion technique to determine characteristics of the object.
At this point in development, the Elastic Invisibility Cloak is somewhat impractical. Once the technology is improved, possible uses would be thin, lightweight mattresses for campers or carpeting that would hide cables running underneath it.
The Elastic Invisibility Cloak won't save a wizard but it’s still an interesting idea.