Sea creatures like octopus, squid and cuttlefish are among nature's best camouflage artists, changing color to blend into their environments. This is partly because cephalopod skins have some primitive optical abilities — their skin has the same light-sensing proteins found in eyes — that allow them to "see" through their skin. And the Department of Defense would like to know their secrets.
The Office of Naval Research just awarded a four-year, $6 million grant to nanotechnologists and marine biologists at Rice University, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and others, hoping the scientists will create ocean-inspired metamaterials that can become a new class of camouflage.
Project Squid Skin, as the scientists are calling it, is designed to produce metamaterials that are adaptive, observant and responsive to their environments, according to Naomi Halas, a nano-optics professor at Rice and principal investigator on the project.
Halas plans to use nanostructures to create sheets that can change colors quickly, like a high-definition TV, she explains in a news release from Rice. The materials would also involve light-sensing nanoparticles and some kind of internal processing system.
The team's marine biologists include Roger Hanlon, a Woods Hole marine biologist who has spent more than three decades studying cephalopods. Among his contributions were the discovery that cephalopod skins contain light-sensing proteins called opsins. He also shot the incredible video below, which highlights why biomimicry is so intriguing to people whose goal is protecting military personnel.
As natural disguises go, none are as fast or as effective as that of the octopus. They have the widest range of patterns and can change faster than any other animal, according to Hanlon. He has been developing a mathematical description of their camouflage patterns that can be used comparatively across the animal kingdom.
Hanlon said the DOD project will illuminate areas of research beyond camouflage — distributed light sensing through the skin could have any number of applications for vision research.
"How and where that visual information is used by the nervous system is likely to uncover some novel neural circuitry," he said.
Oh! Neat! Just don't wear a suit of this stuff at a formal Scottish occasion.
These little suckers are amazing!.. Sorry couldn't help it.
1)big dog robot thats like metal gear gekkos. (check)
2)smart guns and ammo that fire electronically. (check)
3)active camo suit like Snake's in MGS. (check)
Sci-fi just keep crossing the line into reality.
Next on Metal Gear Predicts the Future: Octocamo!
They could also use it also be used for offense like the cuttlefish's ability to hypnotize prey?
Give the octopus an MRI while it's changing colors/skin texture to find out how its brain determines what to blend in with! :D Sounds great! I want some clothing/armor that does this after they perfect the technology.
That's a pretty cool idea Bushmaster! I would love to see that data... It's fun just thinking about how to set up the experiment!!!
Hehe, I get chills just thinking about what our submarines will be like once they're equipped with this...
what are the mechanics involved that allows the optical data gathered through the skin to become camoflage? i can't help but think of some of the "invisibility" cloaks that have been made using metamaterials, fiber optics, etc. and i think it would be too cool to discover how they manage to pull off a biological equivalent of these new techs. for so many new breakthroughs, some weird little plant or animal is saying "yeah, so? been doing that for years."
let me know when they find an iPhone fish.
There will be an interesting thief-catching game on street. A police is catching a thief who has just stolen a camouflage cloth from store. The thief ran over a yellow house and stood silently there holding the cloth, wanting to be blended with the color of the wall. But the police came and went straightly toward him, then caught him with handcuffs. 'How could you see me?' The thief asked, 'I saw your shadows' the police said,'The transparence of your camouflage is one sided, you fogot to wrapped that cloth on'.
forget the military applications, i want skin grafts over existing tattoos, might fill it in nicely, according to my mood! The best thing about the military industrial complex is they are far ahead of what they tell the public. Proabably allready out there!
not always, most of our vehicles BFT systems where developed in the early 90's with the GPS, and only recently in the last few years has it become common.
If it's all based on optics then it will have to be a skin that can be put over metal for tanks anyway, maybe thousands or millions of micro led's with a sensing controller for the terrain.