Apple won a patent Tuesday that enables them to remotely deactivate smartphone cameras. While the idea is to allow different venues to deter filming of events, like movies and concerts, law enforcement and government agencies could co-opt this technology to stop bystanders or accosted suspects from filming acts of police brutality.
According to the patent, infrared signals can be detected by the camera and subsequently direct the smartphone to block the user from capturing images. Locations hosting events would need to install infrared emitters across the perimeter of the stage to obstruct the photography.
Disabling smartphones’ camera functionality could assuage the complaints of many big name musicians, like Beyonce and Björk, who have banned professional photographers and filming in general for a number of various reasons. Prince also joined a number of his colleagues in 2013 by prohibiting photography, but the rule was apparently not enforced or not abided by during his last concert before his death.
Apple has exhibited a firm stance on privacy matters, so the patent could just be a means to block out others from using the technology. Nevertheless, the patent proves such a capability is not beyond the means of determined, technical actors.
The feature could also be employed by museums and galleries that want to elaborate on the specifics of the artifacts and artwork they are displaying. The Louvre in Paris already offers an audio and visual guide powered by a Nintendo 3DS XL, but this new patent could make supplementary information available on any smartphone.
If Apple actually plans to use the technology, then several musical artists could finally get their wishes answered. Perhaps concert-goers will finally put down their phones and enjoy the show.
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