One of the things that really spoils live concerts these days is that half the people there don’t seem to want to watch it live at all – they’d rather watch it through their phone screen, holding the device up and blocking the view of those behind them. This is a problem Apple is seeking to solve in a patent first applied for in 2011 and granted today …
The patent describes the camera detecting an infrared signal and interpreting the data. One signal could be used to disable both still photography and video recording.
For example, an infrared emitter can be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited, and the emitter can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands to disable the recording functions of devices. An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command.
The same approach could be used to prevent video recording in movie theatres, and to block photography in sensitive locations.
If it all sounds a bit negative, the same patent describes some more positive uses of the technology. In a museum, for example, the system could be used to automatically display information about the object you’re viewing or photographing.
An infrared emitter can be located near an object and generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes information about that object. An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and display the information about the object to the user.
It’s possible that the technology described by the patent has been superseded by things like iBeacons, which could conceivably trigger the same kind of functionality more reliably – infrared feels like a rather elderly method of data-transmission these days. But it’s interesting that Apple is exploring this area, and if it results in people at concerts keeping their phones in their pockets and actually watching the concert, I for one will be happy!