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‘Stealth Wear’ deflects drone detection

Apr. 7, 2013 - 10:07AM   |  
The ‘Anti-Drone' hoodie
The ‘Anti-Drone’ hoodie (Courtesy Adam Harvey /
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Want to stay incognito from drones? There’s a hoodie for that. New York City-based fashion designer Adam Harvey has created a “Stealth Wear” collection, which includes hoodies, hijabs and burqas made with “metalized fibers that reflect heat, thus evading thermal imaging technology used by drones.”

The inspiration came from a variety of places — Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency research, his trip to Afghanistan, particular interest to challenge authoritarian surveillance — but all fell under a common goal: to raise awareness and critical discussion of today’s drone usage.

“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,” Harvey said in an interview with Air Force Times.

This coincided with a trip Harvey took last year, during 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.

He worked with designer Johanna Bloomfield on the flexible, metalized fabric to create “ready-to-wear counter-surveillance,” and showcased the designs at a Primitive London event in January.

Harvey feels there is an imbalance of power with how the United States uses drones and surveillance.

“The U.S. is a leader in technology, but we can also be a leader in privacy technology,” he said.

He said uniform companies that have contracts with the U.S. military have expressed interest in buying some of his pieces. Harvey is now working on restructuring how the garments are made — on average, it takes about two weeks to handcraft one piece.

“Out of the three main pieces, the most significant is the burqa,” he said. A burqa is a traditional outer garment worn by Islamic women that covers their bodies in public, including an eye veil.

While the pieces will be manufactured in New York City, he said it isn’t necessarily catered to a U.S. audience but applicable “anywhere where drones are being used.”

Harvey has made “wearable technology” before; “Camoflash,” which he debuted in 2010, is an anti-paparazzi clutch that emits a “counter-flash” against photographers. He followed that up with “CV Dazzle,” a camouflage technique that combines makeup and hairstyling in order to thwart computerized facial recognition software.

According to the Daily Beast, hiding from Big Brother won’t be cheap: The hoodie costs $487.45, $561.99 for a hijab and $2,278.35 for a burqa. His anti-drone shirts, possibly the most affordable, come out to $45.58.

“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.

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