Apple Patent Appears to Show System for Disabling Camera Remotely

Apple recently filed a patent having to do with baking infrared communication capabilities into the iPhone. Although there are certainly useful applications for the technology (e.g. a museum beaming information to the phone at different exhibitions), what’s troubling is that the feature may also allow the camera to be remotely disabled by those who wish to prevent photography.

[…] the transmitter could be located in an area where photography is prohibited and the infrared signal could include encoded data that represents a command to disable recording functions.

This example could easily apply to movie theatres trying to stop customers from filming a movie for illegal distribution or any kind of music concert to protect an artist’s image from being photographed or videoed illegally, as shown below. [#]

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a camera that could be disabled remotely by a third party…

(via Patently Apple via Engadget)

  • Jack Kennedy

    Couldn’t you bypass this with flight mode, as it turns off all wireless connections?

  • Adam Solomon

    Wow, command and control. It’s magical!

    What I really don’t understand is the illustration.  I see Paul, Ringo, and John.  Where’s George?

  • Anonymous

    1984, scary.

    And who goes to a concert at 10:16 AM? :P

  • cyclone

    Tape over the infa red window, done.

  • will hall

    Make sure your tape of choice is opaque to IR

  • will hall

    Make sure your tape of choice is opaque to IR

  • Dwjantz

    Infrared isn’t wifi

  • David Jacobowitz

    Unless the infrared “window” is the camera sensor itself.

  • cyclone

    Unlikely, manufacturers go to great lengths to block IR light ;-)

  • Jack Kennedy

    But it’s a wireless connection, yes? So turning ‘flight mode’ on would turn infra red off?

  • Jack Kennedy

    But it’s a wireless connection, yes? So turning ‘flight mode’ on would turn infra red off?

  • Anonymous

    Infrared signalling is wireless, but a very different spectrum.  Instead of being radio frequency, it’s almost visible light.  IR is not going to interfere with aircraft electronics any more than a flashlight will.  This looks like a passive system as well.

  • Jack Kennedy

    I should have known so. I just covered waves in science…

  • Nils

    I’ve heard that there existed other recording devices apart from the iPhone. Amazing, I know.

  • Michael

    Big brother.

  • Graysmith

    Film photography for the win.

  • M. Federico

    I don’t see where is the connection with 1982.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a reference to George Orwells book 1984, I haven’t read it, but I played Mirror’s Edge ten times, and that’s set in the same sort of society :P

  • M. Federico

    I know, yet I don’t get it. If I remember right it’s legal to forbid photographing in certain places.

  • Anonymous

    This is just a small step in that direction though. It’s not an ‘instant ‘1984’ society’ thing.

    It’s a case of trust in the people. When I’m in a store, I’m being trusted I won’t steal anything. Ofcourse alot of people abuse this trust, and the abuse should be dealt with, which I don’t have a problem with at all!

    Camera’s on every streetcorner, in any store, I don’t mind, if anything, it makes me feel safe. But there is a line, I don’t want a camera in my house looking if I do something shady.

    And I don’t want my phone-camera shut off because I’m not allowed to take pictures of a concert (which is ridiculous anyway, I don’t see the reason for it (I’m curious though, why is that?))

    If I’m at a concert and the ashes in my beer look like a baby giraffe, you’re damn sure I’m going to take a picture of it!

    Where the line is is ofcourse a very difficult thing to establish, but in my opinion, this is over it. And even if you think this isn’t (which I respect, I’m probably overreacting because the example given is a concert), you have to agree that it’s a step in the direction of a ‘1984’ society.

  • M. Federico

    I get what you mean. This technology though would be totally fine to me if it would be employed together with gyroscopes and stuff so that only shooting in the direction of the concert (for example) would be impossibile, and it all being strictly regulated by laws.

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree :)

    If that technology, with the gyroscopes, would be implemented in every camera, I would totally write ‘take a photo of this and win a million dollars’ on the side of the bathroom stall facing the stage :P

  • Anonymous

    Then they’ll give it to all the police officers.

  • Ortonauta

    I definitively will buy a gadget that worn around my body (i.e. Pin or pendant) will block digital images of me (and my loved ones)to be taken. I don’t like the idea of ending up all over the web in somebody’s stupid Facebook wall or alike without my consent. Also don’t like the idea of being “videotaped” for whatever reason, legal or not, even when I walk the streets. I’m not a criminal by the way, I just like my privacy.

  • Joe

    Could be a good thing. A lot of places with high security are banning phones altogether if they have cameras in them. Now they wouldn;t need to do that. They could just block the phone part.

  • Donigan

    I just wish we would come up with something that shuts all cell phones down when in a movie theatre.  I haven’t been to a show in years that hasn’t had some rude idiot answer a ringing phone, or light up the room with their texting screen.  

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  • Marco Tedaldi

    As long as I’m the one with a camera that is not crippled and own a device to prevent others from photographing, I’m in!
    Imagine, you go to an event as a papparazzo and you’re the only one with photos because all the other cameras (which are croppled by the producer and the media industry) fail because of an unknown reason…

  • Joseph Dredd

    Ortonauta , stay indoors then and get a tinfoil hat. Perhaps get the whole family kitted out with burkas?

  • Steven Simmons

    Gee I came up with this ideal 20 years ago when I worked at a movie theater as a way to stop bootlegging. Surround the screen with infrared strobes to blind the camcorder sensor, could even transmit the stop signal for cameras equipped with infrared remotes. Would be to easy to defeat back then and now.

  • mike

     so lets see… what blocks infrared… perhaps a case that covers the infrared receiver on the phone.. or something specifically designed to block that part of the infrared spectrum on the receiver of the phone.  Can’t be too difficult…

    Tell you what, how about after I buy the phone, I own it, and as such I will decide when best to use the phones functions or not. I don’t like to be told by Apple, the government, or some artist that using something I own at my discretion that my “behavior” is not ok. Lets stop policing peoples behaivor and put the responsibility of a persons actions as their own.

    It’s not anyones jobs to police us.. we are not children, and we are all free to make our choices. If they are good or bad choices is not for me to say, but lets keep the freedom to keep making choices I’m not pro bootlegging or ripping off peoples ideas, but a third party having the ability to turn off the camera on my phone at will is a little asinine!!! 

  • Anonymous

    Still it’s not really a 1984 situation… more liek the reserve of it.  rater than the government putting cameras everywhere so they can watch you… this is taking your cameras away.

  • Info

    i’m guessing LAPD will buy these ir units and put them on cops’ belts

  • Vinh Prag

    If people want to watch the next Spider-Man movie recorded on an iPhone, let’em.