A platform for initial testing of multiple camouflage patterns

Joanna R Hall*, Olivia E C Matthews, Tim N Volonakis, Eric Liggins, Karl P Lymer, Roland J Baddeley, Innes C Cuthill, Nicholas E Scott-Samuel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The human visual system is still an important factor in military warfare; military personnel receive training on effective search strategies, and camouflage that can effectively conceal objects and personnel is a key component of a successful integrated survivability strategy. Previous methods of camouflage assessment have, amongst others, used psychophysics to generate distinctiveness metrics. However, the population from which the human observers are drawn is often not well defined, or necessarily appropriate. In this experiment we designed a new platform for testing multiple patterns based on a camouflaged object detection task, and investigate whether trained military observers perform better than civilians. We use a two-alternative forced choice paradigm, with participants searching images of woodland for a replica military helmet displaying Olive Green, Multi Terrain Pattern, US Marine Pattern or, as a conspicuous control, UN Peacekeeper Blue. Our data show that there is no difference in detection performance between the two observer groups but that there are clear differences in the effectiveness of the different helmet colour patterns in a temperate woodland environment. We conclude that when tasks involve very short stimulus presentation times, task-specific training has little effect on the success of target detection and thus this paradigm is particularly suitable for robust estimates of camouflage efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDefence Technology
Early online date13 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Nov 2020


  • camouflage
  • detection
  • military
  • civilian
  • expertise
  • training


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