Two months back, the USPTO awarded Apple a patent disclosing the method to block a user’s camera where photography or video recording is prohibited. The patented technology received mixed responses.

Danny from The Guardian, for example, found the idea legit for concerts, plays, museums, etc., where smartphone users violate “no photography” rule almost every time. Danny, however, was afraid that a govt. or a police could use the technology to block recording of a protest, for instance.

One thing worth noting here is that Apple’s patent doesn’t focus strictly on stopping a user from recording videos at concerts or photographing cool paintings at art galleries. One embodiment of it, on the other hand, discloses providing extra information about the clicked images.

Say, you capture a pic of a rare artifact in a museum, then as per the patent, an infrared device installed in the museum will send info related to the artifact on your phone. The image below will make it apparent.


Depending on where you are clicking images, that infrared device may send instructions to your phone to stop recording or photographing. And you will be restricted to use your smartphone camera for a predefined amount of time.

After Apple, the USPTO recently published a patent application by Sony titled Method and System to Disable Recording on similar technology. However, unlike Apple, Sony’s invention isn’t for a smartphone only but covers any recording device.

Also, unlike Apple, Sony is using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to transfer information of a captured image. So, if you’re attending a concert or in an art gallery, don’t bother yourself by removing your camera or smartphone to record anything, it may not work.

Why you ask? It’s because the same Wi-Fi router providing you free data will be blocking you from photography, too.


Another interesting thing is that the patent mentions adding watermarks in images. This feature will be loved by some museums and art galleries. They will allow you to click a pic but with a watermark attached. This is a win-win for you as well as the museum/art gallery. You can click a pic – a souvenir for yourself – with a watermark. And if you post that on your social media account or on your blog – let say you’re a travel blogger – then the watermark will be doing marketing of the museum/art gallery.

Both the patents are quite interesting and could resolve the piracy issue to a great extent. But it could backfire, too. I would like to quote Danny again:

If Apple creates a way for third parties to control when certain iPhone features work, how will Apple control who has access to that technology? It’s not hard to imagine a government such as Turkey or Russia using it to blackout social media coverage of a protest.”

Ok, I know what Danny feels about this tech. Now I want to know your views, too. I am waiting for your comments in the section below. And yeah, I’m wary of this tech, too. My crazy neighbor can troll me by disabling the camera during my house parties!

This was a guest post by Shabaz Khan, who is a research analyst at GreyB, a patent research and analytics firm of Singapore. He’s a technology enthusiast who loves to explore what new in technology will happen in the future.

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