US military to study "battlefield illusion" technology to confuse enemies

US Specialist Matthew Syperda of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division looks at his cell phone inside his unit's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle during the US military's last combat patrol in Iraq on Highway 1, north of Camp Adder, near Nasiriyah on December 16, 2011.

The US military plans to invest $3.7 million in researching "battlefield illusion" technology to confuse enemies on the front line.

Wired magazine cited that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as saying the "advanced human-deceptive technologies" could be mounted on to military vehicles, jets and ships.

The Battlefield Illusion project aims to study "sensory perception" works in humans, and develop "auditory and visual" hallucinations that can provide tactical advantage for US forces, Wired reported.

It's not the first time a military has sought to harness the power of hallucination. 

Britain's Daily Mail pointed out that both the UK and US governments researched using "weaponized" forms of LSD and another hallucinogen, BZ, for battlefield use in the 1950s.

Nor is it the first time the military has sought to adapt something akin to magic to its fighting needs, Wired points out in a separate report:

Harry Houdini spied on the German and the Russian militaries for Scotland Yard; English illusionist Jasper Maskelyne created dummy submarines and fake tanks to distract Rommel’s army during World War II, and possibly even employed flashing lights to "hide" the Suez Canal; while at the height of the Cold War, the CIA paid $3,000 to magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment and stagecraft, republished in 2009 as "The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception."

Battlefield Illusion is reportedly part of a bigger DARPA program looking for ways to jam laser-based communications and sensor systems.

Last year, defense contractor BAE Systems created an "invisibility cloak" that allows a vehicle to blend into its surroundings.

(GlobalPost reports: Scientists move closer to crafting an invisibility cloak)