Science, Tech & Environment

New York designers create drone-proof 'Stealth Wear'

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Stealth Wear's "stealth burqa" obscures wearers when seen through thermal imaging. (Photo by Adam Harvey/ahprojects.com.)

American drones used in targeted killings often use thermal imaging to locate and select their targets.

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Working to combat thermal imaging, a New York City-based design team has created a line of clothing called Stealth Wear, which strives to make wearers invisible to drone detection.

Adam Harvey, co-creator of Stealth Wear, says the clothing is a sort of modern, lightweight armor.

"Thermal imaging is a new surveillance technology, its part of what I predict as the coming era of multi-spectral surveillance," he said. "Basically, the thermal imaging looks at your heat and the clothing in Stealth Wear reflect your heat, so when you wear it, you appear cloaked."

Stealth Wear is made of nylon, coated in silver at the fiber level and reflects a person's heat from the drone's vision. Harvey's collaborator, fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield, says it has a beautiful luster.

"It's very light-weight because it's a ripstop nylon, which is a fabric that's used pretty widely in technical outerwear," she added.

The clothing line includes hoodies that allow only a person's legs to be seen from above. 

"I think that could be quite flirtatious to the drone operator if he were to see just a pair of legs walking around," Harvey said.

Harvey and Bloomfield see Stealth Wear as an art project responding to the growing culture of surveillance in the United States. 

Keeping in mind countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are under ongoing American drone surveillance, Harvey and Bloomfield designed a drone-proof modern burqa, which Bloomfield says was designed with more mobility and functionality.

"We decided to add elements like a zipper at the front so that it can be removed easily, also a visor to conceal the face," she said. "Also it's made out of the thermally reflective fabric, so it renders you almost completely invisible."

The line runs between $500 and $2,300 and is currently on sale though the London boutique, Primitive London.

The high price, Harvey says, reflects the use of materials like silver used to make the fabric of the clothing.

"I think you'll see, it's already happening a little bit, that privacy is a luxury item and it does cost money," he said.