New Tech Could One Day Beam Invisible Ads Directly Into Your Camera

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Just in case you weren’t feeling media-saturated enough already: there’s word of an emerging technology that could decorate your photos with ads only a camera can see.

A paper shared at the recent Intel Developers Conference under the seemingly innocuous title of  “Working Group for Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs)” envisions a system where otherwise ordinary lights or informational signs could be encoded to blink out messages. The information would be delivered too fast for the naked eye to decode, but at just the right speed for a camera shutter to capture.

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So theoretically, that nice portrait you just took with the model precisely positioned to take advantage of environmental lighting could come off your memory card with “Lose 10 Lbs. Fast!” emblazoned in the background.

Developers describe the technology as similar to the QR codes now embedded in everything from billboards to magazine ads, but with 10 times the visual range. And without that pesky “voluntary” part.

Casio already has a primitive version of the technology working via its PicapiCamera app, which uses blinking tri-color lights to transmit data to cameraphones one 8-bit string at a time. UK startup pureVLC is working to commercialize LiFi, a similar system that embeds messages in environmental lighting.

Issues yet to be worked out include limited bandwidth, variability in camera shutter and image sampling technologies and (wild guess here) possible privacy concerns.

(via EOSHD)

  • ennuipoet

    OK, obviously this is not going to start ruining my photos any time soon, but still WTF?

  • Jason

    It’s up there with the adverts that will be played when a tired passengers lean their head on a train window in Germany.

  • Sofia

    what privacy concerns?

  • GreenMtns

    When that day comes I’ll go back to anaolog. Ridiculous

  • markz

    as the meme goes

    “Do Not Want”

  • Norshan Nusi

    Sending a message using light?

    Very useful for military…

    And calling Batman.

  • Jake

    But what if I deliberately composed a picture to avoid having annoying ads ruining my shots?

  • CrackerJacker

    Maybe my snark meter is malfunctioning (I’ve been on vacation), but these messages are being sent as a transmission of data based on the frequency of the LED — it’s not creating an image that only your camera can see. So if you have the app that can decode the signal you’ll get the message being sent (like a scanning QR code). At worst on your photo you might capture some of the LEDs being off or on depending on their cycle and even that would have to be at very high shutter speeds.

  • Julien

    No No No No Please No! They say it blinks too fast for you to see them blink, but I’ve seen a lot of LEDs blinking, and you don’t notice it as long as you look at them straight on, but start moving your eyes from left to right, or start walking, and all of a sudden you see them blinking like crazy! Try it with Christmas decorations that fade from red to green. If you look at them normally you just see them fading, but start moving your eyes and you see them blink Green Red Green Red Green Red… Just imagine that in front of every store in New York or MontrĂ©al, and inside a couple of stores. That would drive me crazy!!!

  • mko

    This is the evilest thing I can Imagine.