The Best Illusions of 2021 [Videos]

The main illusion in this video shows a chess board and its reflection in a mirror. However, there’s a phantom White Queen piece that only appears as a reflection, leaving a mysterious empty square in the foreground. The illusion is achieved by creating a camouflaged invisibility cloak that shields the Queen from one viewing angle. The shape and pattern of this shield also disguise its presence when viewed from a second angle that comes from the mirror’s reflection. The video also shows other applications of this anamorphic camouflage to create a remarkable magical appearance and an invisible cube.

The one that took the second place is also really impressive: The Changing Room Illusion!

The Changing Room Illusion is an example of “graduate change blindness,” a phenomenon in which observers are unable to notice changes to the world around them when those changes occur gradually. In virtually all prior cases, gradual change blindness is studied by changing individual objects (e.g., a chimney disappearing or a facial expression shifting). While trying to prepare a novel example of this phenomenon for students, I realized that I could change dozens of items change without observers noticing. Overall, this illusion highlights how people may actually perceive and remember far more of the world around them than they intuitively realize.

[Best Illusion of the Year Contest]