Designer Adam Harvey held a Stealth Wear exhibition earlier this year, and "the 'anti-drone hoodie' was the central attraction," says Tom Meltzer in Britain's The Guardian. The garment is a hooded shawl made of a silver-fiber material that is supposed to cloak the wearer from the prying, even deadly, eyes of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
The "counter-surveillance" garments are "lightweight, breathable, and safe to wear," according to Harvey's website. More to the point, they're "intended to thwart overhead thermal surveillance from drones." And in a pointed reference to their use in predominantly Islamic countries, they are inspired "by Muslim dress: The burqa and the scarf," he adds. "Conceptually, these garments align themselves with the rationale behind the traditional hijab and burqa: To act as 'the veil which separates man or the world from God,' replacing God with drone."
There may not be a market for awkward-looking metal hoodies, but Harvey is looking to the future. "I wouldn't say many people have a problem being imaged by drones yet," he tells The Guardian. "But it imagines that this is a problem and then presents a functional solution." With some 20,000 drones expected to be flying the American skies by 2020, he may have a point.
But his design has a couple of obvious flaws, says David Weigel at Slate.
This is as good a reason as any to revisit the trusty old tinfoil hat. The theory behind the cheap, smart-looking little Faraday cage was that it would render spies impotent, blocking radio waves. Turns out it does the exact opposite. Harvey's designs suffer from the same problem. They absolutely mask the thermal signature of the covered area. But there's more to an ambulatory human than the area covered by a hood! Anyone who's worn a raincoat and noticed the pesky wetness attacking his/her legs has learned this lesson. [Slate]
Actual military camouflage designer Guy Cramer agrees. "It doesn't matter how good your clothing is," he tells The Guardian. "If you're not masking every part of your body — your hands, your face, your eyes — it's going to give away your position." A full-body heat-shielding burqa might work, Cramer concedes. But, Meltzer adds, that "would really take the fashion out of counter-surveillance fashionwear."
Harvey's obvious comeback is that one of his three anti-drone pieces is a burqa. (See below) And, he counters, "These are primarily fashion items and art items... I'm not trying to make products for survivalists. I would like to introduce this idea to people: That surveillance is not bulletproof."
(2013 Adam Harvey / ahprojects.com)