Apple Tries To Patent A 'Solution' To The 'Analog Hole': Transmitters That Block Your Camera From Working

from the you'll-never-photograph-steve-jobs-again... dept

A few folks have sent over the news of an ongoing attempt by Apple to patent a sensor system that would allow people to set up transmitters that would send a signal to mobile phones that would prevent the camera from working.

By pairing an infrared sensor with the camera already on board, portable devices could receive data from transmitters placed, well, wherever. Beyond simply blasting out text and opening links like a glorified QR code, transmitters could disable certain features, such as the camera, to prevent recording at movie theaters and music venues. If completely shutting off the cam seems a bit heavy-handed, watermarks can also be applied to photos identifying businesses or copyrighted content.

The patent was filed in 2009, which seems pretty late. I remember having conversations about how such things were technically feasible back in 2003 or 2004, just as cameraphones were starting to catch on, and there were a few early moral panics about them. It’s difficult to see how this should be patentable, considering how widespread the idea was (along with discussions on how it could be implemented) way before this patent application was filed. Of course, the bigger issues are that (1) there are always going to be easy ways around that kind of thing, and (2) for theaters it seems like a pretty expensive proposition for pissing off your customers. Of course, it’s not worth reading too much info into patents like this as an indicator of where Apple is going. The company files lots of patents, many of which are never really touched.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Apple Tries To Patent A 'Solution' To The 'Analog Hole': Transmitters That Block Your Camera From Working”

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David Muir (profile) says:

Cell phones killed in theaters

I am not sure if people would be more pissed off at having their cell phones and cameras killed in a specific theater while and only while a movie is running than they are at people who hold up a camera, text, or talk on a cell during a movie. This may be one situation where, if properly implemented, customers would be happy that rude and arrogant technology users are shut down for a short time.

Of course, patenting it and actually implementing it properly without overreaching are two very different things.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

infrared sensor?

I see why they went infrared, if they use a system that’s not line of sight it risks bleeding over outside of where you want it and then it’s a problem. But that kinda leaves a huge loophole. The infrared sensor is kinda noticeable and kinda easy to block. Just put a little peace of tape over it and it’s not a problem any more. Or do they expect that the camera is already able to see IR and it’s the software behind it that disables it? Easily circumventable ether way and just another way that it’s going to piss of legitimate users.

Anonymous Coward says:

the IR sensor is part of the chip that takes the photo, not an external external item.

Photo copiers already have this technology built in, when you copy money with them they will put water markets or simply refuse to copy the money.

All this system did was change the trigger from paper money to an IR signal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“The damage caused by bootleg film recordings is estimated at around 3 billion dollars a year, according to the American Film Institute.”

Heh, totally forgot about that last quote in the article. Makes sense that Apple would want to cash in on that number I guess; the MPAA thinks they are losing 3 Billion, we can charge them 6 Billion and claim a 2 year ROI. Now I’m sad I didn’t file the patent 😛

Griff (profile) says:

Who'd want this camera ?

for theaters it seems like a pretty expensive proposition for pissing off your customers

And for phone manufacturers. Or will it be illegal to sell a camera that doesn’t have this (thus forcing everyone to license Apple’s IP ?).

Hardly a selling point for a new camera that it can be disabled. Or will people just find some jailbreak code to “fix” the phone when they get it home. In which case you are just punishing the innocent.

Will UK prominent soccer players be able to get “IR injunctions” to prevent the Paprazzi from photographing them with their mistresses ?”.

My suggestion for a better technology ? Continuously (randomly) varying frame rate & interlacing. This means there will be a periodic interference with the camera’s fixed frame sampling rate causing a poor end product noone will be able to watch. But the human eye won’t be fazed by it in the theater.

Oops, should have patented it first…

Doesn’t fix the ANALOG hole, but who is using analog video recorders in theaters these days ?

But I guess that would need new projectors and (maybe) cameras. Or could conventional digital recordings be post processed into this format ? In which case just new projectors.

Why not just mandate that all new build cameras must emit a signal when filming ? Then the police could run into the theater armed with a receiver and arrest the terrorists / sorry, bootleggers, without any change to theater infrastructure.

Or would that be overreacting ?

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Why bother?

Here’s why.

Because my mobile phone can be recording video that is uploaded to YouTube before you can smash it.

Yeah, take the phone. Smash it. Beat me up. The video is already out there.

Someone else (possibly halfway around the globe) can download it, and then re-upload it. Maybe even to different video “tube” websites. There’s no putting the genie back in the tube of toothpaste.

MetalSamurai says:

Patent to prevent this

What this patent actually does is prevent this technology from being used.

Nobody else will bother implementing it as Apple has the (frankly shonky) patent.

Apple won’t bother as only their phones would be affected.

Other manufacturers are not going to pay for a license to cripple their phones.

There is no way for anyone to make this work. Or make money off this idea.

Thankyou Apple.

Anonymous Coward says:

So let me get this straight, they’ve developed technology to stop people using a camera in a movie theatre, including cameras in phones, despite the fact that nowadays most “cams” of movies are done from inside the projection booth. And yet they still haven’t found out a way to stop peoples phones ringing during movies?!?!?

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