Clever, disturbing

Apple was recently granted a new patent for technology that will disable your phone’s camera at concerts where photography is forbidden.

The patent uses an infrared signal, which could be picked up by the imaging sensor itself. This is rather ingenious and cunning, because you could not disable the shut-down sensor without disabling the camera yourself, since they are one and the same.

IPhone_5S_main_cameraDepending one how pervasive such tech became, and how closely integrated the detection, decoding, and disabling is to the actual silicon image sensor, it could become nearly impossible to defeat this tech, or to obtain a phone that doesn’t include it.

I find blocking cameras at concert venues mildly annoying, but the potential for abuse of this technology seems large. Will folks on the street use it to block being photographed? Will it be deployed in government buildinds? Outside cop-cars? Will the secret for how to disable everyone else’s phone get out?

Over the last few years we’ve seen some exciting benefits from ubiquitous deployment of cameras. People are getting caught doing things that are illegal or at least shameful. I’d be bummed to see some technology from Silicon Valley reverse this progress.



2 thoughts on “Clever, disturbing”

  1. You can be sure that if Apple incorporates an infrared shut off that police will attempt to use it unless there are rules against it. Even then I suspect that people will obtain whatever defeat device emerges to block people’s capacity to record. Dumb idea. If promoters are worried about copyright, they still have ways to enforce it.

  2. It’s a very dumb idea. What makes me nervous is that if it catches on, the sensor manufacturers will build it into the chips as a value-add, our or another government may eventually required it. Then it will be difficult to defeat.

    It’s really not a good idea.

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