Apple has patented technology that could make the iPhone camera go dud when trying to film live concerts or clicking images deemed sensitive. However, it’s not the iPhone alone that would be at it but requires the assistance of an external infra-red signal emitter to ensure no images are clicked where it is not desired.
The way the entire thing works is this: the IR emitter would beam signals which would be picked up by the IR receiver that’s already present on smartphones. The emitted IR waves would carry codes which get decoded by the smartphones, which in turn disables the smartphone’s camera.
As such, the usual sight of the people holding their smartphones aloft trying to record live concerts could be a thing of the past. Not only is it annoying to those watching the show from behind given that it obstructs their view, but such acts could also be in violation of any copyright obligations that such concerts or show might subject to.
However, since both the emitter and the smartphone need to be in the same line of sight for the camera functionally to be disabled, users will still be able to click other images, like that of their friends as usual. It’s just that they won’t be able to click pictures or record a video of the stage performance, or any place or object that is guarded by the IR emitter.
That also brings into focus other areas where the concept can have an immediate implementation. For instance, any place of strategic or military importance might be guarded against being photographed using this simple tech.
Similarly, the same tech which might seem to be hampering user’s free movements can also have a self-revealing aspect to it as well. For instance, a similar IR emitter placed around say an object in a museum can reveal all the details about the object when the smartphone points to it.
The patent was first submitted in 2011. That, however, is no guarantee the technology will be implemented right away with just the next iPhone version itself if at all that happens. Further, Apple has since introduced iBeacons that are Bluetooth based in between. In contrast, IR seems to be slightly outdated, and it remains to be seen if Apple will be implementing the tech in its present form.
Then there are also those to whom the thought of an external source NIL their iPhone camera could be seen as a direct infringement on their privacy. Further, it will also be interesting to see how the entire industry as a whole reacts to such a development, whether different government agencies (military operators) or private parties show interest in the prospects and so on.