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Apple Patents a Way To Keep People From Filming At Concerts and Movie Theaters ( 266

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has patented a system that prohibits smartphone users from taking photos and videos at concerts, movie theaters and other events where people tend to ignore such restrictions. The patent has been award to Apple today and was first spotted by Patently Apple. QZ reports: "It outlines a system which would allow venues to use an infrared emitter to remotely disable the camera function on smartphones. According to the patent, infrared beams could be picked up by the camera, and interpreted by the smartphone as a command to block the user from taking any photos or videos of whatever they're seeing. The patent also outlines ways that infrared blasters could actually improve someone's experience at a venue. For example, the beams could be used to send information to museum-goers by pointing a smartphone camera at a blaster placed next to a piece of art." The report also mentions that the patent could in theory be used to help police limit smartphone filming of acts of brutality, or help a government shut off filming in certain locations. Last week, SlashGear reported that Alicia Keys is the latest musician to ban cellphones at her events.
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Apple Patents a Way To Keep People From Filming At Concerts and Movie Theaters

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  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @04:48PM (#52408677)

    Now the cops can abuse people and you can't film them doing it!

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      Exactly. The entire premise of this is control of people. Time to block the IR port, kids.

      I don't envy younger people; the world is turning into a liberties hellhole on them.

      • How does blocking the IR port help me use the device and software I paid for?

      • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

        by umghhh ( 965931 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:50PM (#52409211)
        They will not notice it if they have not experienced anything else in their whole conscious life. I see it with my fellow Germans that live in the West and of whom none saw communism in action. They do not even see a point of protecting privacy after all if you did not do anything wrong you do not have to be afraid I was told. I was also asked if there i anything that I wold be afraid, These are the same people who just cannot believe that anybody in local media or politics can lie to them. Hey they are even majority here! People that complain are dangerous as we know. Paranoid people are too to be suspected of wrongdoing. Interesting world - only exceptional cases will doubt and object. They are then easy to handle. The only difference between now and the older times is that there is no hardly a place that is not a hellhole where one can find a refuge.
        • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @09:31PM (#52410285) Journal

          You must be talking about the Stazi, if I am picking up on your inference correctly? The tools of oppression are many and varied, the people you are talking about are too insular and afraid to look at such things. Worse that there is no hope for cowards, that they destroy hope for all.

          I can't say if the majority of /.rs believe that, but I do know that there are some people here that are very aware of the things that you speak of. The inference of this technology is very clear - 'we can film you - but you can't film us'. The state wants the power to allow law enforcement to be thugs to keep people in a state of fear as it is a tool of oppression. We were all blind for a long time, however now that we all have cameras, we can all see the activities of the state and confront its representatives with the evidence.

          You are right about there being no refuge and the only thing that I have seen in recent time to balance that is that everyone and anyone can be a random witness at any time and the kind of thuggery you are speaking of can be recorded as evidence and used to challenge that states version of events. This kind of important advancement is not merely a 'power to the people' kind of thing, it's an evolution of society as a whole to force the state to live up to the professional standards they profess to be maintaining.

          It also show how poisonous the music industry is and that the consequences of their 'Digital Restrictions Management' has had a much broader effect in the general community than any of us could have imagined and as such, inevitable that such technology would be invented. Whilst I have no doubt that there will be some sort of hack to overcome any implementation of it, that means nothing to the general population. The new (superior) model of witnessing state violence is being challenged with the premise of blinding a society who eyes have just been opened. We will have to watch how this development unfolds very carefully indeed.

      • What if the camera is the IR port? Mission accomplished for them either way you go.

        Even if we accept the premise that this is a problem that could use solving (which I'm actually open to), there's no good way to do so that I can see.

        If we allow our devices to be susceptible to "camera jammers" (which is what these really are), we would, of course, want to make sure that the camera jammers were regulated. We might require that each be registered, program the camera to ignore any unregistered ones, and log an

        • The "don't taze me bro" got exactly what he was looking for: attention. He made damn sure someone was there to record it.

        • Good luck regulating IR camera jammers, when any idiot with an Arduino or similar can make an appropriate signal modulator for whatever IR lamps you have on hand. $1M says the necessary source code and hardware plans will be available online within months, maybe days, of whatever legislative or back room deal mandates such jam-ability. Not to mention the worst abusers would likely be police, factory farms, etc. Anyone who wants to make it more difficult to capture a video record of their crimes.

          The record

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There's a group of them who are partly responsible for it. Look at these university safe-space failure cases who are literally begging the government to restrict their rights. Of course they're demanding for OTHER people's rights to be restricted, not realizing how it will turn out for them in reality.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:52PM (#52409223)

      Well, assuming you're using an Apple iPhone(tm) with IR technology that responds to random outside commands, and the police are using an Apple iPhone Deactivator(tm) to remotely control your phone, then yes you won't be able to record them doing that. But, don't worry Apple fan, people with other phones who didn't want to pay royalties to Apple for the privilege of having their phones remotely controlled by random outside commands will still be able to film your beatdown.

  • Fascinating... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @04:50PM (#52408705) Homepage Journal

    That's a really interesting idea from Apple.

    Because last I checked, the iPhone camera since the iPhone 4 has an IR filter on it and can't see IR light. Found this out at the Science Museum when there was a display of the visible spectrum and it told you to take out your phone and look at it via the camera.

    Surprise! iPhones can't see the IR lights, but other phone cameras could.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are focusing to narrowly.

      Stop focusing on the FEATURE, start focusing on the INTENT.

      The INTENT is to let third parties disable your phone when desired.

    • By the time this patent idea is implemented, most of the iphone users will be on an IR-capable device.
    • Point your television remote at your iPhone camera and press a button. See that little blinking Led? That's Infrared. The filter REDUCES the amount of IR getting to the sensor, but doesn't block it completely.

      So in order to implement this "anti-recording" feature, the phone will need programming updates in order to detect the particular prevention signal, and then prevent the user from activating the camera. Of course, this won't work on older phones that no longer have updates, or dedicated cameras, or an
      • Point your television remote at your iPhone camera and press a button. See that little blinking Led?

        No. Tried it with 3 remotes on my iPhone 6, nothing. Naturally having a camera that picks up light that you can't see results in less true-to-life photos which is why it is filtered.

    • Nearly all cameras have IR and UV filters. Without them, camera sensors respond to IR and UV light, and the colors in your photos end up looking different than they do to the eye. The efficacy and cut-off frequency depends on the filter and manufacturer, but it's not uncommon for far-IR to be blocked while near-IR is let through.

      Anyway, this reminds me of the pattern of circles [] used on bank notes to prevent you from counterfeiting by simply putting currency on a color photocopier. Difference being thi
    • That's a really interesting idea from Apple.

      And yet, they completely missed the opportunity to shut off the phone ringer while they were at it.

    • Because last I checked, the iPhone camera since the iPhone 4 has an IR filter on it and can't see IR light.

      The iPhone camera is not really good [] at taking pictures in low light conditions, so it may not be the device they're trying to block.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Maybe they are planing on adding an IR sensor for other reasons, like auto-focus. A lot of Android phones are using IR laser diodes for extremely fast focusing now.

  • It's called the "Some Guys Give You a Wicked Beating" (tm) reactionary system.

  • Didn't we do this with stoplights at some point?

    Didn't they have to pass laws banning normal people from having the devices that changed the lights?

    I mean, how hard would it be to modify one of these to send out the camera-disabling signal? []

  • I buy it, I own, I do what I want with it unless that breaks a law.

    Making a device that lets other, non-governmental people stop me from using it is not a service, it's a theft.

    • by es330td ( 964170 )

      Making a device that lets other, non-governmental people stop me from using it is not a service, it's a theft.

      Not if you agree to those terms. If the terms of attending a concert are "no recording, filming or photography" then you agree to be stopped by attending the concert. Don't like those terms? Don't go.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @04:58PM (#52408793)

    Let me be the first to say, "FUCK YOU!" to any artist that does this.

    I'll never attend your concert or buy your music. I'll go out of my way to pirate it if I like it, but you'll never get a fucking dime from me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Good, you're annoying.

  • Would this work with standalone digital cameras?

    How about analog film cameras? I know airport scanners can affect high-ISO film, but I don't if those scanners user IR or some other wavelength.

  • Its good to know that Apple is spending their R&D effort toward making enhancements that the customers want; as opposed to the features the products wants.

    And yes I said exactly what I meant.

  • They assume I want to buy a crippled phone that can be disabled remotely by someone that isn't me.

    This is a "just stick, no carrot" kind of deal. Thanks but no thanks.
  • Apple Patents a Way To Keep People From Filming At Concerts and Movie Theaters

    I'm not sure but this may be the first time I've ever seen Slashdot properly headline a story about patents. Usually the headline would be something like this:

    "Apple Patents Keeping People From Filming At Concerts and Movie Theaters" ... which would then result in two hundred comments of people bringing up irrelevant examples of other approaches to dealing with the problem citing 'prior art' along with heaps of moaning about how broadly general the patent they didn't read is.

    So was this an accident? I mean

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:02PM (#52408849)

    Use the same tech to rob banks and other places maybe even tolls and red light cams.

    • I'm not a security professional or anything, but I'm pretty sure that banks don't have a bunch of iPhones on the walls taking security footage.

  • Can we not do anything for ourselves anymore. Must every creation or augmentation be about controlling or "protecting" us or protecting someone else from us?!? Within 30 seconds of reading this, I already had a mental list of a dozen ways this could be abused. All of which out-weight any possible value this could add to anyone. Is their nothing left in our lives that we can exert some modicum of control over? What's next? Must my kitchen utensils be internet enabled so they can verify with that w
  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:04PM (#52408857) Journal

    I could make a device that discreetly clips onto my jacket or on a cap that sends out the IR signal continuously to stop cameras that are pointed at me.

    Or maybe similar devices on my car that sends the signal to stop cameras from recording pictures or video of my car.

    I'll become invisible!

  • So, if you're in the business of pirating movies by filming them at movie theaters, why would you buy an iPhone? Why not simply by an Android or some other phone or camera? What incentive would there be for companies like Samsung or others to license this technology from Apple in the first place?
  • You apple heads paid them royally to control you. I suggest you give them more money so they can take more of your rights away. So funny.
  • Hey why not use this same system to allow the screen and/or sounds to be disabled in movie theaters. How about infrared for police to unlock your phone or decrypt items. Why stop there the device has WiFi and Bluetooth let's use that too. How about I don't buy something designed where someone else can control it with infrared or any other method in contradiction of my wishes.

  • To prevent grandmothers from sharing baby pics on their cellphones before the lights go down and the trailers start playing. Very annoying.
  • How about No! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:15PM (#52408947) Journal

    MY PHONE should obey MY instructions. If I say take of picture of something it should do so, not ask some third party not me if its alright.

    What I do with the phone is my responsibility.

    • MY PHONE should obey MY instructions.

      So you don't have an iPhone then. Why worry?

  • Five years ago (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elistan ( 578864 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:15PM (#52408955)
    For what it's worth, this patent was discussed five years ago on Slashdot []. The earliest date for this idea of Apple's appears to be December 2, 2009.
  • As a teacher, I'd like to see Apple or Google patent a way to use a phone as only a calculator or run in a sandbox -- call it classroom mode. I don't think they'll do it because Apple & Google would end up selling less chromebooks and iPads for COWS(Computer On Wheel) carts to schools. Just my $ 0.02
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:44PM (#52409177)
    the removal of the headphone jack.
  • by c ( 8461 )

    Nice to see they're still working on it, but not exactly new... []

  • They need to invent away to stop people from making vertical videos. That would benefit mankind.
  • Apple has sold out humanity to lizard like aliens who lack appreciation for wasting power on cloaking fields 24x7 just to avoid being documented by every Dick, Jane, and with a camera phone in their pocket.

  • IR cut filter over the lens.... BOOM defeated 100%.

    Dear apple, you are really losing your edge...

  • Companies patent features that will encourage use of their products. Implementing this would cause users to avoid upgrading their iPhones, or to go Android, so no.

  • Put black electrical tape over the sensor.

  • by garote ( 682822 )

    Apple has patents for all kinds of things, many of them purely defensive, many of them for products and features that never get implemented. I myself remember floating this idea around a dinner table with a few friends at least eight years ago, but our version of it was generalized: Bluetooth beacons that broadcast a "usage policy" around themselves.

    Not just useful for concerts. Imagine a beacon in a movie theater that automatically shuts off the screen and ringer of any cellphone inside it. No more dic

  • As we all know, the moment they roll out something like this, people will first have an alternative phone or recording device that simply does not have the camera-inhibiting code in it. The next step will be wide-spread jail-breaking of devices that have been "infected" with this stuff.

    Sure, the performers want it, the galleries would like it and Law Enforcement (and other clandestine operatives) might feel it necessary for the protection of it's collective members, but the fact remains: People will record

  • Great, now "artists" can lip-sync and we cant record the evidence :(
  • Here is prior art from 2008 [].


  • As soon as this becomes integrated in iPhones, I'm starting a company selling do-not-film-me hats, pins, ski-masks and other accessories for anyone who doesn't want to be filmed. Also for sale, IR filters for iphones - both stick-on and cases with IR filters that block the "do not film" IR signals.

  • A tech that would prevent people from using cell phones in movie theatres is sorely needed.
    But it would not do any good if it would only prevent filming, and knowing Apple: it would be restricted to Apple devices only ... if used at all: Apple has tonnes of patents that they don't use.

    It should have been a part of the cell phone radio protocols from the start and mandatory.