Back in World Wars I and II, warships were painted with odd, cubist-looking geometric designs intended to confuse attacking weapons systems. But other than looking cool, no one was sure if these zebra-esque paint jobs accomplished much. Now a new study says the designs can protect modern military craft even better than they did in the past.
The designs, called "dazzle camouflage," are supposed to throw off an enemy's perception of a ship's size, shape, speed and direction — all key variables when launching a torpedo attack. The study, conducted at the University of Bristol, England, is the first to show that dazzle camouflage can actually work.
High-contrast dazzle camouflage could throw off an attacker's perception of a target's speed by a wide enough margin to cause a miss, the researchers said.
"In a typical situation involving an (rocket-propelled grenade) attack on a Land Rover, the reduction in perceived speed would be sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a meter (3.3 feet), which could be the difference between survival or otherwise for the occupants of the vehicle," said Nick Scott-Samuel of the University of Bristol.
It all has to do with the way we perceive speed. Size, color and other variables all play a role in how we determine the speed of an object — larger objects appear to move more slowly, and changing light contrast can alter our perception of an object's velocity. To gauge this effect, Scott-Samuel showed participants moving patterns on a computer screen and asked them to determine which one moved faster.
When objects were moving quickly, this type of camouflage was more effective than background-matching camouflage, like the green or brown patterns employed by most military uniforms.
Unfortunately, the importance of speed shows dazzle camouflage probably didn't do very much during the two world wars. But we can thank our military forebears for coming up with something that would work well in the future.
This would work even better with active camouflage, so that a stationary vehicle could look like it is moving.
Yeah, they could have moving stripes so boats will REAALLY look like they are traveling at a different velocity than they appear. Still boats appear moving, moving boats appear still. But they might be more visable expecially with the contrast and movement.
I'd like to see this on your standard cars and trucks for everyone. That'll make expressway driving fun!
this is great for not being able to determine velocity but the idea of camouflage is to stay hidden
someone needs to get right on developing patterns that can fool missile locks in a testing environment. active or even projected patterns that could exploit some flaw that is common and hard to get rid of. we could have jet fighters breaking missile locks with little more than an icy stare, and missiles veering off-course as their tracking systems struggle to re-establish a lock or find what they're supposed to be tracking.
interesting ideas; although they don't state how fast moving quickly is; is that quickly as humvee or quickly like jet plane; can imagine would make considerable difference;
would have thought a laser targeting system would make this sort of camouflage ineffective; even a decent laser pointer would give sufficient info to tell whether object large or small & work out whether traveling quickly;
as far as camouflage goes wouldn't be more useful to work out differing types of color blindness certain eye colors tend to produce; would say most middle eastern populations have darker colored iris & a high % of western tend to have lighter colored iris;
i remember back in 70's or 80's there was gimmicky stuff going round where if you had certain eye color you couldn't see shapes hidden on flash cards
using these color schemes
to avoid terrorist attacks and Pirates