Scientists develop wearable tech that can hide from thermal sensors

Thermal camouflage should be the next fashion trend.

Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
Rae Hodge
Wearable heat-detecting camoflage

The technology can adapt to outside temperature changes in just minutes.

UC San Diego

Night vision goggles are apparently no match for a new wearable technology developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. The ambitious device aims to camouflage its wearer from heat-detecting sensors.  

While current heat camouflage tech works by matching emitted heat levels to a predetermined ambient temperature, this new prototype uses a wax-like material that shifts from liquid to solid to match changing ambient temperatures. The technology can adapt to outside temperature changes in just minutes, while the inside remains comfortable to the wearer, according to a release Monday from UC San Diego. 

The researchers' next challenge is scaling up the technology. Their goal is to create a jacket with the technology built-in, but under current conditions, the garment would weigh more than 4 pounds and only function for an hour, according to the release. The team is exploring lighter, thinner materials so the garment could weigh two or three times less. 

Until the new camouflage is available off-the-rack, you can see it in action here: 

Read more: Antisurveillance clothes foil cameras by making you look like a car