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Entrepreneurs, STEM

Tech Note: Patent Issued for Cloaking Technology


Detailed Image of the Crab Nebula (Source: NASA/ESA Dec 2005)

If you are a fan of Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Stargate, you should be familiar with the term cloaking device. How many times have the Star Trek space ships found themselves suddenly surrounded by known enemies, like the Klingon empire, who used cloaking devices to hide their presence in a particular part of the cosmos?

According to Star Trek history, the term was inspired by a screenwriter, Paul Schneider, who imagined cloaking as the space-travel analog of a submarine submerging. He employed it in the 1966 Star Trek episode “Balance of Terror”.  Another Star Trek screenwriter, D. C. Fontana, coined the term cloaking device for the 1968 episode “The Enterprise Incident”. [Source: Wikipedia]

I’ve had more than a few moments when I wanted to be a fly on the wall in some meetings or discussion. If, however, I were able to use a cloaking device to hide my presence, and could have walked into any of these meetings without being noticed, I probably would have done so. The problem with being a fly on the wall is that someone in the meeting might pull out a fly swatter.

Wired Magazine [Ref 1] recently reported that Fractal Antenna Systems Inc. of Belmont, MA has been granted a patent for deflective electromagnetic shielding. In simpler terms, the patent is essentially for a “cloaking” technology to defend against detection by radar and similar technologies. The patent covers electromagnetic cloaking and deflection of satellites, rockets, towers, antennas, vehicles, body coverings, ships, spacecrafts, and even other people (just to mention a few).

Michael Luciano of Wired Magazine reports that the technology produces these desired effects without any significant requirements regarding special orientation, composition, or shape of the object. While the cloak or deflector can be very thin, the effect can happen over a wide bandwidth. The company did mention how “cloaking” applications concentrate on microwave and infrared wavelengths, although the technology and patents also apply to visible light.

While there are some who are debating the authenticity of this patent and prefer a “proof of concept” or a working prototype before giving it a positive head nod, Nathan “Chip” Cohen, the founder of Fractal Antenna Systems Inc. and inventor of the fractal antenna shares these comments about the technology: “Cloaking at visible light has limited needs. Camouflage and projection methods are easier and cheaper at making something disappear to the eye, but at radio and heat wavelengths, the cloaking technology is an important enabler.”

As with most technology, the process and technology behind cloaking will improve. Until then, I’m still waiting to say, “Beam me up Scottie!”


  1. Patent Issued for Cloaking Technology, by Michael Luciano for Wired Magazine, January 2018, https://www.wirelessdesignmag.com/blog/2018/01/patent-issued-cloaking-technology#.Wkut2v2sWPc.facebook

About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.


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