So you've spent the last few years of your life growing your hair out and having it cut so the fringe is just right, getting a special tattoo placed on your forehead in the shape of a lightning bolt and going through pair after pair of flimsy, round glasses, much to the amusement of your (former) friends and co-workers, who now approach you warily in your home-made office cubicle, designed to look like you live under the stairs, but finally it's happened, so who's laughing now?

The answer is still them, but also you and probably a number of scientists in the University of Rochester who are undoubtedly outraged that their multi-directional cloaking device, which is the result of intense research and brilliant innovation, has to be explained to people in terms that relate to the fictional works of a children's author. 

Never mind all that though, because Joseph Choi and John Howell of the University of Rochester in New York have managed to actually make a cloaking device, using a series of four lenses that keeps the object hidden from view.

Pic via University of Rochester

In a press release, Howell stated that there had been some seriously high-tech approaches to making an invisibility or cloaking device like this, but "the basic idea behind these [high-tech versions] is to take light and have it pass around something as if it isn't there" which is what gave them the idea to use lenses.

The main difference between this and previous attempts is that it's the first that can be viewed (or not viewed, if you follow) from a number of different angles, providing three-dimensional, multi-directional cloaking.

In order to get this to work, they spent a lot of time coordinating the distances and powers of the different lenses, and getting them to work together, but in a press release where they announced the breakthrough, they did point out that it's made of objects that can be easily found in any optics lab, and aren't that expensive.

That means that not only can it be scaled up or down (provided you can make big enough lenses) to conceal whatever you want, but if you can get your hands on the right combo of lenses, then you can even make your own cloaking device.

Of course, we've managed to get some exclusive footage of them testing it out, so have a look for yourself.


Pics via University of Rochester