The new military camouflage prototype based on "chameleon-like photosensitive skin" is very promising and I am sure it will have a lot of success. A $6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research will surely help the scientist find the best materials that would match their colors to the surrounding environment, I saw a device capable of doing this when I was searching for safes on http://www.gunsafesnow.com/biometricsafes.aspx but installing such metamaterials on marine vessels needs more tests.
Nice example of applying ideas learned from nature into technology. Camouflaging ships could be a good application if it is possible to deceive the other technologies e.g. radar, infrared etc.
This just reminds me about the Arnold Schwarzenegger casted movie "Predator"; The predator was shown to be capable of camouflaging itself with similar technology? :)
There may be many opinions whether such technology is really worthwhile for military applications or not. But I foresee a revolution in the Paints manufacturing industry. Soon you may see the paints available in the market that automatically matches your furniture or curtains for example. The day you change your curtains the walls will automatically change their color to match them. No nee to repaint the house !
This project is an example of pork, the useless government waste.
1. The naval ships are not detected in the visible light spectrum.
2. Even if the match to the environment in the visible spectrum occurs, the ship could be detected in other parts of the spectrum, IR, for example.
3. They would not be able to match the optical density of the environment. The environment for a naval ship is air. Air would not reflect light. The ship surface is metal, hence there is media boundary between air and metal. That boundary will reflect light, however you paint the metal.
4. The color of the environment, as perceived at the near point, might be different from that perceived at the far point.
Yet another $5M down the drain. But I'd rather feed with the public money the useless projects of the "marine biologists" than give that money for the enjoyment of the Wall Street banksters.
Government funding of military research is a traditional way of pumping the economy, reward politicians and give them something to take back home to their voters. It is easy to justify and to disguise, difficult to ask too many questions. Most doesn't result in weapons, but it avoids the commercial conflicts that would occur if non-military products were targeted. It kinda works and we in Britain wish we had a similar way to get govt support for technology!
Most of the biological world has proven too complex to directly mimic with electronics--as in AI--but by choosing clear engineering goals for improving camouflage these researchers are more likely to achieve the goal of emulating biology.
The only problem I see that squids can regenerate the proteins and cells in the their skin while a ship can not. Also nowadays a navel ships are not discovered by eyes, that would be too late, they are discovered by radars and sonars.
It is a very interesting technology, they do not have to justify it with military applications.
This certainly appears to have a great deal of potential if they are successful. Of course, there are a number of implementation issues as pointed out by new2coding, but the solutions to those provide additional valuable spin-offs (and some are already in place, with others being worked).
It is wonderful to see that the world of biology continues to offer insights to engineers. We've long been familiar with the use of countershading and disruptive patterns to make objects less conspicuous, but this is certainly taking the lessons from nature to the next level!