Illustration for article titled Science Fictions “Scramble Suit” Becomes Anti-Surveillance Fashion

The undercover vice cops wear a "superthin shroudlike membrane" to cloud their appearance in Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. An information magician in William Gibson's Neuromancer wears "a polycarbon suit with a recording feature that allowed him to replay backgrounds at will." Now that these science-fiction technologies from these 1977 and 1984 novels are possible, they're beginning to appear in fashion.


The New York Times calls it "counter-surveillance fashion," and notes that the Edward Snowden revelations and outrage over FBI drones spying on American cities means it's the right time for functional clothes, hats and purses that fight back. Designer Adam Harvey showed off some of his work at a recent show in London:

His work includes a series of hoodies and cloaks that use reflective, metallic fabric — like the kind used in protective gear for firefighters — that he has repurposed to reduce a person’s thermal footprint. In theory, this limits one’s visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground.

He also developed a purse with extra-bright LEDs that can be activated when someone is taking unwanted pictures; the effect is to reduce an intrusive photograph to a washed-out blur. In addition, he created a guide for hairstyling and makeup application that might keep a camera from recognizing the person beneath the elaborate get-up.


Other designers weaving anti-surveillance technology into fashion include an engineer making anti-Google Glass devices and a Japanese firm putting bright LEDs inside hats that start flashing when a camera is detected taking pictures without permission—the spectrum would be invisible to the wearer but would wash out the photos.

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