June 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Apple Patents Kill Switch That Could End iPhone Concert Photos

apple patent iphone concert photos video

“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.

Apple’s camera-commanding technology might seem better suited to “free speech zones” or movie theaters fearing pirates, but Apple’s patent specifically mentions concerts:

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.

YouTube Preview Image

(Thanks, Mary; image courtesy of Flickr/Tawny Rockerazzi)

  • Anonymous

    Cell Phone blocking is not an issue of free speech in the US. of A,  it is a FCC regulatory issue, If you look at the FCC Field Issued Citations database (http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/) you will find cases such as this one (http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-305292A1.html) where the FCC has gone in and HEAVILY fined the operators of cell phone jammers. There are none that are F.C.C. Type Accepted, so there are non that are legal for use in America.

    ” On January 10, 2011, in response to a complaint of interference, agents
    from the Enforcement Bureau’s Los Angeles Office visited your place of
    business at 6720 Valjean Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406, and detected radio
    signals on 1.8-2.0 GHz emanating from a radio transmitter. At the time of
    the inspection, the Los Angeles agents determined that you were operating
    a radio transmitting device designed to jam or intentionally interfere
    with licensed radio communications in the cellular and personal
    communications service (“PCS”) radio services (47 C.F.R. Parts 22 and 24)
    and attempted to inspect the subject device. Subsequent to the attempted
    inspection, operation of the device ceased.

    Persons operating or using radio transmitters must be licensed or
    authorized by the FCC, pursuant to Section 301 of the Communications Act
    of 1934, as amended. In addition, radio transmitting equipment must comply
    with FCC rules. Section 333 of the Act prohibits willful or malicious
    interference with any radio communications of any station licensed or
    authorized by or under the Act or operated by the United States
    Government. In addition, Section 302(b) of the Act, and Section 2.803 of
    the Commission’s rules, prohibit the manufacture, importation, marketing,
    sale or operation of devices deliberately designed to jam or disrupt
    wireless communications. The Commission has issued two Public Notices
    specifically stating that the sale and use of transmitters designed to
    prevent, jam or interfere with the operation of cellular and PCS
    telephones is unlawful.”

  • Cat

    Anybody know if this software is hidden in ios5? If it is i wont be downloading it when its released and i will be switching to android! I dont like the idea of a Chinese style lockdown on my phone