Jul 6, 2016

Apple Patents Technology for Deactivating iPhone Cameras at Concerts

Audience members ruining concerts and plays by recording them on their smartphones could soon be a thing of the past after Apple successfully patented a technology that blocks the iPhone's camera and video record feature.

The invention would allow venues to use an infrared beam to disable photography on mobile phones, preventing people from taking videos and photos. The invention comes amid growing frustration that intimate live events are being spoiled by a sea of smartphone screens as thousands of spectators' record videos of live events in order to share them on social media shortly after.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch recently pleaded with fans to stop filming while he performed in Hamlet and Adele told a female fan to stop filming on her mobile phone at her concert in Italy and to "Enjoy it in real life rather than through your camera."

Apple's patent, which illustrates how an iPhone would become temporarily disabled during an event, requires an infrared transmitter to be installed at shows. When switched on, the patent says, the phone would display a "recording disabled" message to the owner if the audience member attempts to take photographs or videos. Alternatively, a watermark or a blur effect may be applied in order to discourage people from sharing them. Apple's patent can be viewed here and here.

Apple applied for rights to the infrared system in 2011 and was granted the patent five years later. In that time, Apple has started using a similar data transmission technology called iBeacons, which powers Bluetooth functionality, allowing users to control a sound system via their phone. Compared to Bluetooth, infrared might today seem like a more outdated approach, according to 9to5Mac.

It is not clear whether Apple will add the new technology to the iPhone, as companies often patent inventions without using them, but clamping down on this culture would be most welcomed by entertainers and venues alike.

Other initiatives include shining lasers on visitors who use mobile phones during performances which has become a popular tactic in cinemas in China and was recently adopted by London's Jermyn Street Theatre.

Although the new patent does seem to be a logical, there are some worries attached to its use. If the technology is introduced, it could be used by oppressive regimes and law enforcement to prevent citizens from documenting oppression something social media and portable devices have been instrumental in opening the worlds eyes to.

in: Digital/Tech, News, Patents

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