“Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away,” sang Paul Simon. Music fans might soon echo that sentiment.
Old school cameras like the one in Simon’s song (listen below) take their orders from whoever’s pressing the shutter button, without checking with Kodak or the owner of a venue to see if it’s okay to take a picture. But that’s precisely the feature Apple hopes to protect with U.S. Patent #20110128384 (via cryptogon), filed in December of 2009.
The patent covers technology that would permit an iPhone (or any other camera designed to capture still images or video within the visible light spectrum) to detect invisible infrared signals encoded with specific instructions for the camera to follow, such as “stop recording video of this Paul Simon concert.”
This would allow venue owners to jam Apple’s devices as part of their own policy or at an artist’s behest to prevent “smart” cameras from recording visual data. The overall effect would be to reduce the smartphone’s in-concert use to little more than a lighter that can be held aloft.
In some embodiments, infrared data can be received and an electronic device can modify a device operation based on the infrared data. For example, an electronic device can disable a function of the device based on received infrared data. In some embodiments, a transmitter can be located in areas where capturing pictures and videos is prohibited (e.g., a concert or a classified facility) and the transmitters can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands temporarily disabling recording functions. Accordingly, devices near the transmitter may be able to detect images to receive the infrared signals and the commands encoded in the signal but those devices may be unable to capture pictures or videos because of the commands.
In some countries, movie theaters are allowed to jam cellphones to prevent people from talking on them. That’s considered a violation of free speech in the States, so you’re free to blather on at will while other people try to watch. In the coming years, though, you might have trouble using the same phone to take pictures during shows to share them with friends.
(Thanks, Mary; image courtesy of Flickr/Tawny Rockerazzi)