You might have seen a post from our friends at Soldiers Systems Daily back in December about a new concealment system developed by camo savant Guy Cramer that literally changes its color with the background of the wearer.
SSD had few details at the time, basing their post on Cramer's release on his Hyperstealth company web site. But Kit Up! got a chance to talk to the mad scientist himself at the ADS booth during SHOT Show.
First of all, Cramer is teaming with ADS Tactical to develop and market a family of camouflage patterns for the Army's Phase IV camo program -- that's just an FYI for Kit Up! readers who might already know that...but just in case you didn't.
So, we asked Cramer about this "chameleon" camo he calls "SMARTCAMO" and whether it's for real. Of course he confirmed the product is very real and that he was indeed approached by the Army to take down a video he'd shown at a camouflage symposium in Brussels that purportedly demonstrated the technology in action. He said the camo changes color and brightness based on the background where the wearer is traveling. It's not a mirror or glass window kind of thing where you'd see the tree and rock face the person or vehicle is passing by, it just allows the wearer's camo to go from desert to forest to transitional, for example, as he's moving between environments.
While Cramer wouldn't fully reveal to Kit Up! what the specific technology is, he did hint at a few specifics on how it works:
- First -- The technology is "composite" based and does not leverage so-called "nano-technology." Not sure if this is actually what he's doing, but when he said that I pictured fiber optics interwoven between fabric.
- Second -- the technology can be used to make uniforms that are "fabric" based -- we're not talking some kind of plastic oversuit or membrane. Cramer said literally it feels just like a normal ACU, for example.
- Third -- the technology does use power and logic. In other words, the uniform has to be hooked up to a battery and it does use some kind of computer processing to make it work.
- Fourth -- And in truly an amazing development, Cramer said the SmartCamo can change its IR signature feedback based on the background as well. I didn't know this was necessary, but he explained that uniforms and objects stand out differently in the IR spectrum in different environments.
But here's the kicker, Cramer said he can build a uniform with this technology in it today for troops...and no, there isn't a major weight problem either. So why doesn't the Army just jump on this now? Well, because at this point, each uniform would cost about $1,000, Guy admitted.
"That's obviously way too much for anything but the most specialized units," he told us.
He said the Army is particularly interested in this technology in the short term for ground vehicle camo. Cramer said he could put the SMARTCAMO to work on MRAPs and Humvees today, applying panels to the truck which incorporate the technology. In vehicle applications, power and processing wouldn't be as much of a problem as it would in a man-portable uniform situation, he said.
Helicopters are next, he added.
Now look, this is single sourced from the inventor himself -- I have not confirmed any of this with the Army or anyone else yet. But Cramer has a successful track record on pattern development and fielding and is taken very seriously in the industry. Some of this seems a bit far fetched...but I have no evidence to prove it's FALSE...