REPORT FROM: Agent Betsy Greer
My project for CARPA was based on quilt and stitch history, how it can look benign, while also hiding various codes and symbols. The idea was to embroider military 10-digit coordinates in the quilt (basic log cabin style squares) in several similar colors. Coordinates that operatives would need to go to would be stitched in thermochromic-dyed thread that would change color when introduced to heat. White cotton thread was dyed with thermochromic pigment and changed from a rust color to an orange when a heated object was put next to it (a foot/hand warmer that one might use in the field to get warm reaches the 86 degrees necessary to change color). The idea here was a to produce a quilt that would look just like a quilt with numbers, but would provide necessary information when individuals with the correct knowledge/equipment showed up. The same quilt would just appear to be a quilt to any passersby (or users), therefore hiding any sensitive information.
What I didn’t count for was the temperature threshold of the dyed thread itself and that the desert would exceed it! Foiled! The project did work at a minimum level, although not as well as I had hoped. The possibilities of thermochromic dyed thread are endless and could even conceivably be used in a military environment.