Millennials love taking photos and videos of everything they do including at the concerts they attend. The sheer volume of videos on YouTube of handheld concert footage can attest to that. It turns out that Apple filed a patent that may make that endeavor a lot harder if not impossible. Oh, and the patent has been granted.
Apple’s patent, first filed in 2009, includes details of a feature that would shut off or disable the iPhone/iPad camera when users are taking video of a concert or really any event that you pay to get in to. This would work by sending infrared signals to iOS devices by placing emitters at certain places in a room or a hall. These signals would contain encoded data to shut off their cameras when you point them in a certain direction. That means that if you want to take photos of yourself and your friends at any event you can still do so but if you point your camera at the band playing on stage it would trigger an automatic shutdown of the camera. Since infrared technology has been around for quite a while in our television remote controls, it won’t be much of a chore or too much of an expense to fit places with these emitters.
However, allowing third parties to turn off such fundamental functionality won’t go down well with users, especially since the whole freedom of speech/self censorship debate is so common these days. But this move isn’t so much anti freedom of speech as it is pro copyright. Millions of videos online are handheld clips of live concerts, movies that are currently in theatres and of live events that haven’t been broadcast on television yet. There is an infinitely multiplying pool of torrent sites out there that are brimming with bootlegged copies of the latest summer blockbusters. Having access to these video clips not only ruins the experience for those who stumble across them unintentionally but it also contributes to the decreased viewership of these events when they are broadcast. Then there’s also the argument that filming a live event spoils the experience for some fans as a sea of flashes obscures their vision.
The patent also includes another use of this feature, specifically targeting museums. Users can point their cameras at exhibits to bring up information about them just like you can do with certain apps on smartphones today. An example is the SkyView app that allows you to point your smartphone at the sky to identify constellations and stars.
Apple’s recent foray into Smart Home technology could also use this feature to bring up information about different appliances when the camera is pointed at them, although this would be part of the Home app, not the camera itself otherwise the overlap could create a gigantic mess.
This patent is only one of 44 that were granted to Apple on June 29th. These included patents to allow control of Apple TV through in-air 3D gestures and 3D GUI control for the Mac.