Have you ever seen people at concerts holding an iPhone up in the air, trying to record the live performance (and probably uploading it somewhere later on as well)? But they usually don’t know that the moment they do that, they are infringing on IP copyright law. Piracy is punishable by law, even if it is sporadically enforced. It hurts the device manufacturers as well whose device is being used in ways they never intended. No one wants to be blamed for what they never did. Camera phones are a huge part of our lives these days and often the most handy way of capturing the precious moments around us. But some people do use the built in camera’s in ways that were not intended by the manufacturers. Apple’s R&D department has made a major break-through in anti-piracy technology and has applied to acquire the patent for that as well.

Apple’s anti-piracy technology is based on a simple but ingenious idea. In movie theaters, they distribute special infrared waves for hearing aid devices. Apple’s new technology will enable the iPhone to detect those infrared signals and the iPhone will sense that you are in a movie theater. Now if you will try to record a scene from Kung Fu Panda 2 with your iPhone this weekend, it will automatically sense that you are in a movie theater trying to record, and will shut off the camera automatically. Another possibility with the same technology can be that the movie/snap you capture will be watermarked with the name of the movie.

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The same will be true with music concerts, if you try to take a picture of Lady Gaga, the whole picture could be watermarked with LadyGaga, but for that concert the management will have to bombard infrared waves on the audience.

This technology may have other implications as well, such as in museums and historical places. Here the authorities can set up infrared signals for each place, so that when you point your iPhone towards that, it will catch those signals and then show the detailed info about that on your iPhone screen, replacing the human guide or tour guide headphones.

It may take some time to completely implement this technology, and it may take even longer for us to see the practical implications of this technology. But none the less, even though this technology is simple and ingenious, it will have far reaching effects. Whether people like it or not, the millions of artists worldwide will love it since they lose money from piracy on a daily basis.
At the end of the day, anti-piracy laws will more than likely be something that we become accustomed to with time. However, these new laws will no doubt make big waves at first as people begin to think that their personal freedoms are being limited when they can no longer do what they want to do with the hardware that they have purchased. Fortunately or unfortunately, companies are in the business of making money, and taking the hard line with piracy will benefit their bottom line.

Martin’s Take: This patent is about remote controlling functionality on Apple devices. Turning off features on the phone while the guy with his Android phone can still take a picture of his loved one on the concert, may be seen positively by the industry, but certainly not by consumers.

I have not found any limitations to that feature online. Can the technology turn off the complete phone? What if the phone is turned off then and someone needs to call in an emergency?

This new technology is one step closer to 1984 in my opinion, with company’s being able to control what you can do with your electronic devices, and what you cannot.

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