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Proceedings Paper

Disruptive camouflage tricks the human eye: a study of detection times of two near-similar targets in natural backgrounds
Author(s): Gorm K. Selj
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Paper Abstract

Our understanding of camouflage, in military as well as in evolutionary perspectives, has been developing over the last 100 years. In that period of time several underlying principles have emerged. It has turned out in the recent decade that background pattern matching alone may not be sufficient to conceal targets because of the ubiquitous and revealing information contained by the edges of a target. In this paper we have studied one concealment strategy, the so-called disruptive coloration, further as it predicts that high contrast patches placed at the target’s outline will impede detection, by creating false target edges when exposed to the observer. Such disruptive coloration is contra-intuitive as it may impede detection in spite of the fact that the patches themselves may be poorly concealed. In military environments the “disruptive approach” within camouflage has been textbook material for decades. Still, very little has been reported, supporting this idea, especially when it comes to the concealment of human targets in natural sceneries. We report here experimental evidence from a field study, containing detection data from 12 unique natural scenes (5 testing the disruptive effect, 7 as reference tests), with both human targets and human observers, showing that disruptively colored camouflage patches along a human’s outline (its head) may increase detection time significantly as when compared to a similar (human) target concealed only with background matching. Hence, our results support the idea that disruptive coloration may impede detection and similarly that the best concealment is achieved when disruptive coloration is added to a target that matches the background (reasonably) well. This study raises important question to the current understanding of human vision and concealment as well as to any approach to describe the human visual system mathematically.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 October 2015
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9653, Target and Background Signatures, 96530S (21 October 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2194157
Show Author Affiliations
Gorm K. Selj, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (Norway)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9653:
Target and Background Signatures
Karin U. Stein; Ric H. M. A. Schleijpen, Editor(s)

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