TOKYO (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Japanese apparel maker Mizuno is developing a textile to frustrate would-be voyeurs who photograph athletes with infrared cameras, producing a see-through effect.
The Osaka-headquartered Japanese giant collaborated with metal company Sumitomo and Kyodo Printing to produce a woven elastic fabric that can be moulded into sporting uniforms.
Mizuno did not say how long this project has been in the works, but first revealed tests on the fabric in December 2022.
There is no information on when a prototype will be available, but a Mizuno spokesman told Japan daily The Asahi Shimbun that the company had plans to make it commercially available by 2024 at the earliest.
The new technology was designed to block infrared rays emitted by special cameras allowing the user to take photographs that can“see” past thin layers of clothes and plastic, similar to night vision technology or screening machines used at airports.
“The fabric has clear effects in preventing camera voyeurism,” Atsushi Shiraishi, a Mizuno official in charge of development, told Asahi on Monday (March 27).
“We want to improve its texture to a level that will satisfy athletes.”
Tests revealed that infrared cameras could not capture beyond the special fabric which is opaque in images, unlike other fabrics that appear to be transparent when shot by the same camera.
Illicit photography involving infrared cameras has been a problem in Japan.
In 2021, a 57-year-old man in Chiba prefecture was arrested for photographing a female volleyball player with an infrared camera and selling the video on a pornography website, Asahi reported that year.
The Japanese Olympic Committee has also previously spoken out against “despicable acts” including sneak photography involving athletes, as well as perpetrators misusing or circulating those images and videos.
There are plans for Mizuno to produce attire for track and field athletes, who often use light uniforms for high-performance needs, as well as sports bras and swimsuits, a spokesman said earlier in March.