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Apple patent could prevent users from recording, photographing concerts


Ever cringe when the person in front of you raises his or her smartphone during a concert to film the action instead of enjoying it IRL?

With the continuation of a patent granted to Apple on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, concert filming may become a thing of the past -- at least for iOS users.

The patent, originally filed in 2011 (and updated in 2014) deals with infrared technology in which the phone would receive information via infrared signals.

In the filing, Apple includes drawings depicting the technology's application including placing infrared transmitters on concert stages that would disable phone recording and prevent illegal image capturing.

Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Another possibility would be to apply a watermark to displayed or stored images (rather than disabling the phone) so that the resulting images would not be sharable.

While these restrictive applications caused some controversy among users, the technology can also be used in ways to enhance the user's experience. One example illustrated by Apple includes the use of an infrared emitter placed near an object in a museum which generates infrared signals with encoded data containing information about the object. The information about the object would then be displayed to the user.

Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

While some users support Apple taking steps to prevent illegal recordings, others were concerned about what could ultimately be deemed an illegal recording.

Concerts are one thing but what about public protests or crisis situations at performance venues?

Others were already offering up ways to override any possible restrictions. Suggestions included using an infrared filter to block transmissions.

Of course, none of this is really new as the patent has been in the works for several years. And certainly, Apple has given no indication that it plans to use the technology in the ways illustrated in the patent.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.