Apple may be planning to enforce “No Photography” zone rules with newest patent award

Jul 1, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Apple may be planning to enforce “No Photography” zone rules with newest patent award

Jul 1, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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With great power comes great potential for abuse. Back in 2011, Apple filed a fairly controversial patent, which would allow the cameras in their devices to be turned on and off at will by external forces. In theory, this would allow locations and venues that have “No photography” zones to enforce this rule more passively.

Aimed presumably at concerts, cinemas, museums, private company areas and the like, it comes across a feature for good. To help protect one’s rights and intellectual property. On the flipside, however, people are worried that this technology could also be used to prevent freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

recording-disabled

In a nutshell, it works with an infrared transmitter installed at a location that sends out encoded data. This data is then picked up by your phone and processed. Depending on the situation, the phone may then temporarily disable its camera, with a big warning popping up on your screen telling you as much if you attempt to shoot a photo.

It’s a completely understandable desire for certain venues to want to prevent photography from taking place on their premises.

One feature of the patent which actually looks pretty cool is the ability to overlay information and present the user with other information and options to find out more information about the scene they’re presented with.

For example, while a museum may ban photography, the same technology that would disable the phone’s camera could also prompt the app to display more information about the artefact the camera was pointed at.

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This is treading a little more into the world of “augmented reality”, and similar tasks are achieved today through the use of QR Codes, but this could be a neat way to present information to museum visitors, or even to teach.

Of course, it also opens up the doors for yet more invasive advertising. If I was in the middle of town, for example, and I wanted to grab a quick shot of something going on, I wouldn’t want to pull up my phone and be bombarded with adverts for the surrounding shops because it received some infra-red ping about cheap holidays or a sale going on somewhere.

That’s where the problem really lies with this. If the blocking and overlay technology became so readily available to venues, allowing them to control our phones and their cameras, then it can just as easily be used to prevent freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Anybody who could get hold of such a device would be able to prevent you from taking photos or video any time, any place and even put their own content straight onto your screen. In fact, if this became a reality, I could see it being reverse engineered and Raspberry Pi based clones being made within a week of the technology hitting the streets.

On the bright side, perhaps it might also help to limit the number of “drunken bathroom selfies” that seem to pop up on our Facebook feeds on a Friday night.

All that being said, it’s just a patent. Many patents get filed and never actually see the light of day in the real world.

But, if it does happen, we might’ve just discovered another one to add to the list of uses for gaffer tape. Covering up the IR receiver on your phone.

Do the positives of this idea outweigh the negatives? Or vice versa? Do you think Apple will even start to implement this? Let us know what you think in the comments.

[via DPReview]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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22 responses to “Apple may be planning to enforce “No Photography” zone rules with newest patent award”

  1. right_writes Avatar
    right_writes

    If Apple do this, I think I might take another look at the Huawei with the Leica application… I need a new phone soon and I have been waiting to see what the latest Apple jobby looks like.

    On the other hand, I might just keep what I have and keep the OS at its current level.

    In other words, this is a very bad move from my point of view, these devices are already way too pervasive.

  2. Bernie Welch III Avatar
    Bernie Welch III

    And that’s why apple sucks

  3. Josef Štorm Avatar
    Josef Štorm

    Can’t ban a film camera tho!

    1. Doug Gray Avatar
      Doug Gray

      Well, except that you already aren’t allowed to bring those into most concerts.

    2. Josef Štorm Avatar
      Josef Štorm

      Not around these parts. I’m sure one could still find a way

    3. Tom AnalogGuy Avatar
      Tom AnalogGuy

      Doug Gray Most venues won’t allow cameras that have a detachable lens.

  4. Viggo Næss Avatar
    Viggo Næss

    How will the disabling work without location services on and in flight mode?

    1. King Demo Avatar
      King Demo

      It won’t need your location. If you are in a No Photography Zone, the zone will have Infrared sensors which will transmit to your IR sensor on your phone. So simply pointing your phone in the direction will disable the camera.

  5. Pelota Basca Avatar
    Pelota Basca

    and make all their customers pay a fortune for not been the real owners

  6. Alfred Au Avatar
    Alfred Au

    If that happens, then bye bye iPhone, hello android!

  7. Timo K Ripatti Avatar
    Timo K Ripatti

    I will add this to my wish list to all digital camera manufacturers. It would be great to be the only photographer in the scene to be able to operate, leaving all other cameras useless. Not to give hard time to others but to protect my client and my copyrights. My camera sending the code and the others jamming. I just can’t wait!

  8. Stephen Masiello Avatar
    Stephen Masiello

    That’s why my cameras say Nikon and not Apple.

  9. Gregg Bond Avatar
    Gregg Bond

    I can see both sides of this argument, and its created quite a bit of an internal dilemma for me. I think I am coming down on the side of “good thing provided its not abused” but then, as a species, we dont have a great track record of that.

  10. Maurizio Caravaggi Avatar
    Maurizio Caravaggi

    jailbreak ;-)

  11. Zak Neumann Avatar
    Zak Neumann

    It would be nice to not have to shoot around phones at concerts.

  12. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    that would be instant bye bye Apple. As a professional photographer I refuse to be stopped from taking a photo by an app

  13. Adam Frimer Avatar
    Adam Frimer

    Good riddance.

  14. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    Just as soon as they implement something like this someone will find a way to disable it either through a hack or through a special case that blocks infrared. Not to mention how useless it would be anyway unless ALL phone makers implement it. While Apply has the largest share they are far from the ONLY option for phones with cameras..lol. LG’s G5 or Samsungs S7 have actually better cameras.

  15. Alexandre Grondin Avatar
    Alexandre Grondin

    Lol, go android.

  16. Fernando Adrian Avatar
    Fernando Adrian

    I support this idea

  17. mike Avatar
    mike

    Remember, you do not own an Apple device. You rent it from them, and they tell you what you can do with it.

  18. Rick Avatar
    Rick

    Seriously, just uncheck the “bombard me with crap” checkbox…

    Stupid article. Anything sent to the phone like museum tours will likely only occur after you select an opt in for a specific stream.