invisibility cloaks might be a real thing

and you can build your own.

image via warner bros.

If you thought invisibility cloaks only existed at Hogwarts, you're in for a surprise. Researchers John Howell and Joseph Choi at the University of Rochester have created the first known 3-D continuous multidirectional cloaking device. Using four standard lenses, the device refracts light in a way that gives the illusion of invisibility.

While there are already cloaking devices in existence, most use very expensive materials and only work when seen straight-on. This new device can be built at home for under $150 and scaled depending on the size of the lenses used and is the first known device to conceal objects from multiple angles.

Even though it didn't help Harry fool Draco in Harry Potter, this device could bring about huge advancements in the medical and safety fields. As the video below notes, it could potentially be used to help surgeons see through their hands while operating and drivers spot cars in their blind spot. We're also imagining all the ways indie bands can use a handmade device in low-budget music videos.

According to the press release, you can build your own cloak using these four easy steps:

1. Purchase two sets of two lenses with different focal lengths f1 and f2 (four lenses total, two with f1 focal length, and two with f2 focal length)
2. Separate the first two lenses by the sum of their focal lengths (So f1 lens is the first lens, f2 is the second lens, and they are separated by t1= f1+ f2).
3. Do the same in Step 2 for the other two lenses.
4. Separate the two sets by t2=2 f2 (f1+ f2) / (f1— f2) apart, so that the twof2 lenses are t2 apart.