Why we don't need to worry about Apple blocking our iPhone cameras (yet)

This is one patent that could definitely be used for evil, but just because it exists doesn't mean Apple plans to use it.

mos def concert2
Susie Ochs

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Shooting iPhone videos at a rock concert is kind of like buying a $75 sweatshirt at that same rock concert: It seems like a good idea at the time, something to keep you warm, something you’ll treasure after you’re back home and the evening’s spell has worn off. Then the next day you realize you’re out $75 and your phone is full of a bunch of shaky, blurry, badly shot videos with awful, blown-out sound.

Apple recently received a patent for technology to block an iPhone’s camera in certain locations. An infrared device on stage at a concert (or in a movie theater, or somewhere else where they don’t really want you taking pictures) would emit light that would notify the phone to temporarily restrict the device’s camera.

Unfortunately, if you can block iPhone cameras from working at an Adele concert, nothing is stopping you from blocking them at a political protest or street riot. And that could be a huge blow to citizen journalism.

Now, Apple hasn’t rolled this technology out yet, and it’s possible the company doesn’t plan to use this patent at all—maybe Apple only wants it to keep other companies from using a similar method. In this week’s episode of The iPhone Show, Oscar examines the possible implications of this patent, and whether we’re just better off suffering the fools who hold their iPhones aloft from the first song to the final encore.

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