Apple to Use New Patent to Block iPhone Cameras At Concerts?


Apple has been granted a patent for technology that could disable an iPhone camera at public events such as concerts.

Here’s how it would work.

Infrared emitters would be placed near a stage or other area where filming is prohibited. When someone points an iPhone camera toward the scene, the handset will receive the signals and either alter what appears on the screen or disable the camera.

For performers who rather see more crowd surfing than waves of smart phones, this technology may seem like a godsend.

This cartoon rock band doesn’t seem to mind.

U.S. Trademark and Patent Office
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

But, is Apple ready to set this technology loose on its customers?

Apple Has No Comment

So far, Apple has made no official announcement regarding the patent approval, the technology involved, or how it intends to use it — if at all.

Big companies like Apple often patent technology for one thing and end up using it for another. Or, they just claim it to keep it away from the competition.

Nonetheless, the tech giant has the power to end your days of concert SnapChatting — if you own an iPhone of course. But the move is almost sure to reflect poorly on the company’s reputation. After all, you remember when Apple users went bananas because the FBI wanted Apple to unlock the phone of a terrorist.

“It could harm Apple in the eyes of some people,” said Pocket Lint’s Stuart Miles in an interview with the BBC. “People like freedom of speech – and who is Apple to tell me I can’t record something?

So while Apple may not find it in its best interest to stop you from recording a video at your next Taylor Swift concert, it can still use the technology in a variety of other ways.

What Else Can it Be Used For?

The patent originally filed in 2011 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes a number of uses for the software.

For example, emitters could be placed next to artifacts in museums. When a visitor attempts to snap a picture, the phone would interpret the signal to provide additional information and multimedia about the object. However, barcode apps already provide this service to a certain extent.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The technology can also have more serious implications. For example, what if infrared emitters could provide blueprints of a burning building to firefighters?

Of course, there is also a dark side. Civil libertarians fear that this technology could be used at public settings to prevent citizens from filming potential misconduct by the police or attendees.

Ultimately, Apple will decide how to use this technology. And part of that decision would be based on what their customers demand.

Do you believe that Apple should apply this software to iPhones, so it could be used at concerts and other public settings? How should this technology be used?

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