New camouflage sheet inspired by octopus skin

Octopuses and squids are known for their ability to blend in with their surroundings at the drop of a hat to hide from dangerous predators.

And now, scientists inspired by their impressive camouflage techniques are working on a device that could make  humans just as adept at staying hidden.

Researchers at the University of Houston and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign designed this heat-sensitive sheet that quickly changes color when it detects light.

So far, it only changes from black to white and back again, which doesn't even come close to the multitude of colors an octopus's skin is capable of shifting to. 

But it seems to be a solid step toward developing a sea creature-inspired camouflage material for human use.

One of the lead scientists on the project told the BBC their current device is more about proof of principle. "It's nothing close to being ready to deploy. ... It's really a beginning point, to focus on the engineering science around how you might create systems that have this type of function."

The science behind this new device is complex, but to put it simply, the magic is all in its layers.

There's a light-detecting sheet at the bottom with a silver layer on top of that that gives the device its shiny white base. And on top of that is a sheet of diodes that heats dye located in the top layer. That dye appears to be black at low temperatures and clear at high temps. And the whole thing is mounted on a flexible base.

To find out what researchers hope this method can be used for, watch this Newsy video.

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