It may look like something out of a cheap science fiction film, but a new line of clothing developed by a New York City-based fashion designer can reportedly protect you from prying electronic eyes.
The inspiration for the “Stealth Wear” collection of hoodies, burqas and hijabs lined with “metalized fibers that reflect heat, thus evading thermal imaging technology used by drones,” came from several sources, says creator Adam Harvey – Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research, a trip to Afghanistan and, according the Air Force Times, a “particular interest to challenge authoritarian surveillance.”
“It all came together last year after working with similar materials I use for the pieces now and experimenting with a thermal camera I have on hand,” he told AF Times, adding that inspiration coincided during a trip he took last year, in which he spoke with CBS reporter Mandy Clark about his research.
“She said to me, rather matter-of-factly, that averting surveillance like this is something that happens in the battlefield, that people were using space blankets in the desert to deflect detection,” he said.
‘Leader in privacy technology’
Harvey said he worked with designer Johanna Bloomfield on material that is flexible and metalized, in order to create “ready-to-wear counter-surveillance” clothing. He showcased his designs at the Primitive London event in January, AF Times said.
Much of Harvey’s development centers around what he believes is a growing feeling of vulnerability among the American people because of the government’s – as well as local police department’s – reliance on drones for surveillance.
“The U.S. is a leader in technology, but we can also be a leader in privacy technology,” he said.
Harvey said uniform companies that have U.S. military contracts are already expressing an interest in buying some of his clothing line. He now has to work on restructuring the way the garments are manufactured; on average it takes about two weeks to make one piece by hand.
“Out of the three main pieces, the most significant is the burqa,” – a traditional outer garment worn by Islamic women that covers their bodies in public, including an eye veil – he said.
The pieces of clothing will be made in New York City, but the line is not necessarily being catered to Americans. Rather, they will be applicable “anywhere where drones are being used.” For the record, increasingly that will be in the United States.
“Wearable technology” is nothing new to Harvey, 31. He’s responsible for “Camoflash,” which debuted in 2012 as an anti-paparazzi clutch that emits a “counter-flash” of light aimed at photographers’ cameras.
“He followed that up with ‘CV Dazzle,’ a camouflage technique that combines makeup and hairstyling in order to thwart facial recognition software,” AF Times said.
Not politically right or left
At what cost this clothing technology? It isn’t cheap, according to the Daily Beast. The hoodie will cost $487.45; the hijab $561.99; and the burqa an astounding $2,278.35. Perhaps the most affordable wear: anti-drone t-shirts at $45.58 each.
“Artistically I wanted it to be an appealing garment that made sense as something that could be worn,” he told the Beast. “It’s a future-ready type garment, but it does have a practical application today.”
Politically, Harvey says his clothing line should interest people on both sides of the U.S. political spectrum.
“People see it as technology they can use in their own way,” he said. “It interests people on the far right as much as it interests people on the far left. Ultra-conservatives see it as anti-government and ultra-liberals see it as anti-military.”
Either way, the most important thing about Harvey’s clothing line is that it is anti-drone.
“While I implemented this on a fashionable level, I think this is a good way to change people’s sentiments about [drones and surveillance] and why we need to consider it before it becomes a greater problem,” he said.