This question led me to a very interesting idea.

Is it possible to create a camouflage or pattern that when applied to military uniforms would distract the viewer, make him feel uncomfortable or even make him lose consciousness or simply prevent him from recognizing a human even though he would see the shape and contours of an enemy soldier? It would be a "Memetic agent" in SCP foundation terms, basically a picture or pattern which is harmful to the brain. If soldiers would wear uniforms with such a pattern or military vehicles would be painted accordingly, they would have the advantage of not even being aimed at by enemies. This would benefit them seriously, at least until the opposing faction develops automatic computer-based aiming systems or weapons. For simplicity's sake, let's consider that the soldiers who wear the uniforms are either immune, wear special goggles that neutralize the effects of the patterns or are trained to not look at each other.

  • Do patterns or pictures exist which cause one or multiple of the following symptoms upon observation?:

    • Distraction and unobservability (e.g. viewer will somehow not be able to focus on the enemy because he will stare away or the viewer's brain will not recognize the object as a human despite having a human silhouette.

    • Discomfort (nausea, headaches)

    • Inability to concentrate

    • Blindness

    • Loss of consciousness

    • Amnesia (e.g. Forgetting what the camouflage looks like)

    • Severe psychic trauma (e.g. losing the ability to recognize humans if being exposed to the pattern for a long time, etc...)

    • Bonus (purely optional): Loss of free will or any other effects that might cause the soldier to surrender or even change sides; paralysis and death

  • Bonus: patterns that "knock out" standard computers or software, either by abusing built-in limitations or by "breaking" scripts. Look up the pattern which is used on the new Euro banknotes and disallows Photoshop and comparable programs to open pictures on which these notes are depicted.

  • Can you provide me with examples?

  • $\begingroup$ You could outfit your soldiers in mirrors, on sufficiently sunny days they should be pretty difficult to look at. I don't think you're going to get much more than that. $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '16 at 20:38

There's nothing you can print on cloth that will cause a huge physical or psychological reaction in a person, except perhaps if you print a joke and make them lol.

As far as "script breaking" patterns are concerned, these are only "script breaking" because of a limitation in said script. Update the software and the problem goes away.

There's no magic bullet to camouflage. I would have thought that the answers on the linked question outline the issue pretty well.

Camouflage, by definition is "the disguising of military personnel, equipment, and installations by painting or covering them to make them blend in with their surroundings." (the definition doesn't mention this, but breaking up outlines is a huge purpose of successful camouflage) Making things stand out as irritating to look at would defeat the purpose.

I'm also not entirely certain what sort of example of controlling people's free will through patterns printed on uniforms you were hoping to get.


While it is easy to extrapolate various forms of chameleon camouflage based on uniforms compered with LED's and cameras, or using metamaterials to refract light around the uniform or equipment in unnatural ways, what you are talking about is something different.

The closest example I could find are "Medusa Weapons", designed to fry the brains of anyone unfortunate enough to look at them. The theoretical basis of this is very thin indeed, and rests on the assumption that the human brain is limited in its responses to inputs, as well as the idea that everyone's brains will react in the same way to a stimulus. Even is we assume that is true, I could circumvent this by only recruiting autistic soldiers, or sociopaths, ro anyone who has an unusual mental or neurological profile which would not be triggered by the Medusa Weapon.

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You also mention the fatal weakness to this technique in part two of your question: the desire to "crash" computerized sighting systems. The issue there is computers work in entirely different ways from the human brain, so what would theoretically work on a human will be ineffective against a computer and vice versa. The other aspect which you fail to address is most computerized sighting systems use much different inputs than human soldiers; target locks can be based on thermal imagery, infra red radiation, radar returns in a wide variety of bands, laser range finding, GPS coordinates, sound, vibrations from the ground, sonar and so on. You are going to look a bit silly painting your tank in a garish display when a laser guided weapon or millimetres wave radar seeking mortar round comes crashing into the vehicle.

The closest that any "real world" device could come to creating the effects you desire would be to emit a strobing light signal synchronized to human brain waves to trigger epileptic fits among people watching the display. While susceptible people could be triggered by the strobing lights, people who are not susceptible would have a marvellous aiming point and fire on the flashing lights with everything they had....

  • $\begingroup$ "Medusa Weapons" are wholly fictional, as it says on the page you link to. $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '16 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Hm...maybe strobe grenades? Basically grenades that consist of a 1000W lamp that is activated 10 seconds after arming and flashes at an epileptic frequency? $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '16 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ Like the supposed "Medusa Weapon", only some people are susceptible to the strobing light, and the amount of light a grenade sized unit could produce would only be effective at close range (i.e. inside a room or enclosure) $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Jul 26 '16 at 0:56

Modern digital camouflage patterns are good at making people and vehicles hard to notice at a distance. The CADPAT pattern seems to be particularly effective: a friend who was an RAF officer complained that the Canadian officer who was on an exchange tour at his base was hard to look at when he wore his camo in the officer's mess, which he did as much as possible. However, this isn't remotely as powerful as the effects you're looking for.

The best fictional treatment of patterns that affect the visual system and mind is David Langford's "basilisk" series of stories, staring with BLIT. They're collected in the book Different Kinds of Darkness, which I'd recommend you read if you want to work with this idea.


I concur with other answers that a pattern could not outright blind or disable an enemy combatant, only cause one to blend into the background. (Although I do have to admit that my roommate has a pair of sheets that makes me dizzy when I look at them). However one could use an active device to distract and blind their enemies.

Police lights are a good example of this, especially the newer super-bright LED ones. Although these could only work for distraction/blinding at night, unless you could make a light that is significantly brighter than the sun (I'll come back to this). At night bright colorful flashing lights that are brighter than police lights could be used to distract and blind (like looking into a flashlight at night). this could be compounded by multiple vehicles/devices (with forward facing lights only) such that it blinds anything in your field of view (with the side effect of also illuminating them.

During the day light, you could take advantage of the sun through glare and reflections (like when you're driving and an opposing windshield glares into your face). Except instead of just a windshield it could be like a discoball that is designed specifically to glare into peoples face. A device like this could however compromise a soldiers cover.

Armies, however already consider things like this. Since the days of the Greeks (at least) it has been known that it is advantageous to attack from the east in the morning and from the west after noon. This way, your soldiers are not facing the sun, but your opponents are facing into the sun and have to squint at it.


It's possible to track human eyes using IR lights, so conceivably you could have a IR flashlight on the end of you gun which paints the area you're pointing it at in (invisible to humans) IR light. If someone looks at you from within that cone of effect a camera on you gun with recognition software identifies their eyes by their IR eye-shine, then a shoulder mounted laser with a prism/mirror on a servo actuated gimbal directs an intense millisecond long laser into their eyes.

Thus anyone that looks at you while you're gun is pointing at them will almost immediately be blinded unless they're wearing protective eyewear, assuming they can anticipate the wavelength of the laser you're using. Eye like IR reflectors could also trick the software into wasting power, these fake eyes could even be electronic sensors that give away your position.


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