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"The primary attraction [of writing sf] is the sheer pleasure of creating something from whole cloth."
- Dan Simmons

Scramble Suit  
  A superthin membrane upon which are projected the characteristics of a million different people, it confers instant anonymity.  

In the novel, narcotics officers wear these suits to disguise their appearance.

"Now you will notice," the Lions Club host said, "that you can barely see this individual... because he is wearing what is called a scramble suit...

"Let's hear it for the vague blur!" the host said loudly...

The scramble suit was an invention of the Bell laboratories, conjured up by accident by an employee named S. A. Powers... Basically, his design consisted of a multifaceted quartz lens hooked up to a million and a half physiognomic fraction-representations of various people: men and women, children, with every variant encoded and then projected outward in all directions equally onto a superthin shroudlike membrane large enough to fit around an average human.

As the computer looped through its banks, it projected every conceivable eye color, hair color, shape and type of nose, formation of teeth, configuration of facial bone structure - the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond, then switched to the next...

In any case, the wearer of a scramble suit was Everyman and in every combination (up to combinations of a million and a half sub-bits) during the course of each hour. Hence, any description of him - or her - was meaningless.

From A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Not Known in 1977
Additional resources -

As it turns out, they have artificial voices as well, leaving "in our minds no characteristics."

Here's an explanation of how this "technology" of Dick's was shown in the movie version of the book:


(Explanatory Scramble suit video from the movie version)

Compare the scramble suit with the mimetic polycarbon suit worn by Panther Modern leader Lupus Yonderboy in William Gibson's Neuromancer.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 3 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Scanner Darkly
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to A Scanner Darkly
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Scramble Suit-related news articles:
  - PKD's Scramble Suit In A Scanner Darkly Movie Trailer
  - Let's Hear It For The Vague Blur!
  - Face Recognition Now Sees Through Disguises
  - HyperFace Aims To Foil Facial Recognition
  - Camouflage To Confound Face Recognition
  - RealFace Glamoflage T-Shirt Like PKD's Scramble Suit
  - CV Dazzle Anti-Surveillance Make-Up

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