Drones, it seems, are everywhere these days: from the mountains of Waziristan to the skies over New York City to a journalism class near you. But while Al-Qaeda has its own handbook of tips to evade drones, who’s going to protect the rest of us from these robotic eyes in the sky? Maybe fashion designers.
The fashion line features a hooded sweatshirt (more like a dickey with a hood) made of silver fabric that deflects drones’ pervasive thermal imaging. Harvey has been designing hi-tech clothes — what he calls “counter-surveillance wear” — for three years. The idea began with Camoflash, a purse that helps avoid paparazzi by using a counter flash to offset unwanted photos. Pesky photographers are left with merely an image of a bright flash as a result. Other products include CV Dazzle, a combination of makeup and hairstyling designed to confuse face-recognition software, although it does make you look like one of Angelina Jolie’s cybercriminal friends in Hackers.
Though the hooded sweatshirt provides some shield from the unmanned aerial surveillance, its crop-top design can only hide so much. Luckily, Harvey also makes a more protective version that covers majority of the body.
But as Harvey explains to the Guardian, that’s not the point. “I’m not trying to make products for survivalists,” he said. “I would like to introduce this idea to people: that surveillance is not bulletproof. That there are ways to interact with it and there are ways to aestheticise it.” Aestheticise may be an exaggeration, as we’re not sure of too many people willing to sport this hooded-crop-top cape around town. But the idea has its merits.
Perhaps his design’s inability to provide full coverage is a good thing. Military camouflage designer Guy Cramer told the Guardian that civilian use of this type of technology can be dangerous. “The only people who really don’t need to be seen are the ones who are doing something wrong out there,” he said.