Photo: Kryptek/Jim Kinsey
The U.S. Army is considering a wardrobe change.Five camouflage design teams have been chosen to move onto the next stage of the Army’s selection and testing process of Phase IV Camouflage Improvement Effort.
The designers have to prove that their patterns of desert, woodland, and transitional camouflage stand up to scientific analysis and field trials over the next nine months.
The Army is also interested in a pattern for equipment and gear to cross over all three environment colour schemes. This means soldiers won’t have to switch their equipment to match what they’re wearing in different environments.
One of the elite teams vying for a possible Army contract is a small, yet formidable company named Kryptek, founded by two combat veterans who served together in Iraq. They’re competing against respected firms ADS (teamed with Hyperstealth Biotechnology), Brookwood Companies, Crye Precision, and a Government team from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems centre.
Some of the new patterns in the running look so cool, you have to remind yourself that you’re not supposed to be visually intrigued. The whole idea of camouflage is to disappear and enhance tactical effectiveness. Up close, the blend of colours and odd shapes can be pretty stunning, but at a distance, the human eye is often tricked into sending a different message to the brain. That’s just a big rock, move on.
Photo: Kryptek/Jim Kinsey
Except there's someone with a weapon.
colour schemes are chosen to mimic natural surroundings.
It's best that colours are contrasted with dark and light shades so that the wearer blends into the natural reflections and shadows we're used to seeing.
Digital patterns re-create shapes found in nature, known as fractals, which we see as mere background noise.
Pixels break up the fabric into a macropattern and a micropattern, so the design doesn't appear as a solid block. Even when picked up by infrared technology, the human form is broken up and its movements are masked.
We interpret gradients and layers of colour as a textured surface with depth. In this case, the desert.
ADS explains that the brain is deceived into regarding the fabric as part of the natural environment, rather than a solid flat surface.
Kryptek's example of 3-D layering features two levels: shading in the background and sharp random shapes in the foreground.
A light-reflecting gradient helps creates a three-dimensional illusion that blends into natural terrain.
And active-duty soldiers will be field testing the Phase IV entries. The Army will then weigh the benefits and costs of adopting new camouflage.
Kryptek says their designs are made for the battlefield and the backcountry alike, so troops and civilians can both take note.
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