There’s a lot of buzz about a new Apple patent, which describes a system that would allow concert planners and musical artists to prevent concert-goers from taking any pictures or videos at the venue.
We’re not convinced Cupertino will do much with it. As annoying as it is to have everyone holding up their smartphones (or worse, tablets) at concerts, it is kind of fun to get a few snippets of video for a particularly memorable moment.
Apple isn’t taking the locked-bag approach; its proposed solution is a bit more technological—go figure.
“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 patent reads.
It certainly sounds like an interesting way to use technology to combat a real issue, but we have a few hesitations. First, Apple first applied for the patent in 2011, so Apple could probably create a much more elegant solution today with iBeacon, if not some other technological trick entirely.
Second, what’s to prevent some industrious person from blocking Apple’s ability to keep an iPhone or iPad from shooting pictures? Wouldn’t that be as easy as covering up the device’s infrared port—which iPhone and iPads don’t yet have, anyway? It’s a much more elegant solution than having to jailbreak one’s device just to take pictures at concerts, which the truly dedicated would likely do anyway.
And we’re a bit worried about the slippery slope aspect of it all: first concerts, then movie theaters, then what? Museums? Businesses? Coffee shops? Depending on how easy it is to set up a little device that forces all smartphones and tablets around it to flip off their cameras, it’s certainly possible that the world might get a lot more photo-unfriendly if these kinds of solutions really take off.
Worse, we wonder what might happen when someone finds a way to monetize the process. Sure, you can take a picture of this waterfall… for $5. The bird on that tree will cost you $10. Enjoy your vacation.