University of Rochester researchers have developed — take a breath — a “three-dimensional, transmitting, continuously multidirectional cloaking” device.
That pileup of adjectives basically means the “perfect paraxial” cloak makes an object invisible, and it stays invisible even when the viewer isn’t looking straight at it. That’s an improvement over early cloaking efforts where the abracadabra effect is ruined by as little as a head tilt.
And the scientists pulled it off with relatively cheap and easily found materials, specifically a set of four lenses set at just the right distance to bend light around an object.
The new research, submitted to the journal Optics Express and available on arXiv.org, is the latest in a growing body of studies exploring various approaches to making objects appear to vanish into thin air.
The “Rochester Cloak” is only limited by the size of the lenses, so, at least theoretically, you’ll be able to hide almost anything but your shame.
The researchers said the device could eventually be used to allow surgeons to look through their hands to see precisely what they’re operating on, or grant truck drivers a peek at their blind spots, which, while certainly practical, may be among the least exciting uses for invisibility we’ve heard proposed. But then scientists probably aren’t supposed to encourage diamond heists and casino jobs.
Learn more in the video below:
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.