Researchers really are working on making invisibility cloaks (let's blame Harry Potter and Star Trek) and have so far succeeded in making systems that can bend light around objects. But only if they were very tiny and only at certain wavelength ranges.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) researchers have gone one better with their own portable invisibility cloak that can hide small objects.
The principle of invisibility is not that it makes objects disappear, but to bend light in such a way that objects only seem to disappear. Diverting light isn't the problem - it's compensating for the increased distance the light must travel once you divert it.
How did KIT's team solve it? By using light-scattering materials. Scattering light helps slow down the speed of light as it approaches, making it easier to compensate for the increased speed the light must travel when it is diverted as a cloaking measure.
The KIT team leader Robert Schittny said, "As we seemingly slow down the light everywhere, speeding it up again in the cloak to make up for the longer path around the core is not a problem."
As to why the team worked on the device, it was in the hope that this portable cloaking device could be shown in classrooms and labs as a means to interest students in physics. Perhaps it'll interest one of those kids to one day grow up and make a super-sized one one day.