Apple Wants To Turn Off Cameras With Infrared. OK, How Will <i>That</i> Work?

Sometimes Apple's patent-filing machine just seems to go off the rails. Case in point: A patent application that Apple filed in December 2009 but was only published on June 2 of this year for a system to block digital cameras from taking pictures by detecting an infrared signal. "A transmitter can be located in areas where capturing pictures and videos is prohibited (e.g., a concert or a classified facility) and the transmitters can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands temporarily disabling recording functions," the patent said.

What's wrong with this picture? At concerts or even special events by retailers, there will always be plenty of cameras (including the type that use old-fashioned film and certainly mobile devices that aren't made by Apple) that don't know anything about infrared signals telling them not to take a photo. That means Apple's latest patent is for a technology that's either unnecessary or ineffective—pretty disappointing from the company whose previous patent applications have signaled the end of privacy as we know it. And what about consumers trying to shoot innocuous photos of friends who just happen to be near a concert? Apple legal hopefully has a rubber stamp that says "Approved to submit for Patent as long as we never ever actually try to use it."