Apple Devices to 'Auto-Shutdown' in Cases of Piracy

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple has filed for a patent that would enable it to stop people from illegally recording a live concert or a movie playing in a theater.

The patent was filed in late 2009 by Apple inventors Victor Tiscareno, Kevin Johnson and Cindy Lawrence.

In the document, the three outline plans for an invisible infrared sensor that would be integrated into mobile iOS devices that house a built-in camera (including popular iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch models). The infrared sensor would work in conjunction with the signals emitted from these real-time venues, telling the camera-laden device that it is not O.K. to record that particular content.

Infrared Sensors to be Applied to Film Industry

Here's how it works: the recording industry would use the infrared sensors to disable a camera during a music concert by directing an invisible signal towards the crowd. The iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch would then be disabled from recording the concert and violating copyright laws.

This process would also be applied by the film industry, with the invisible signals emitting from movie screens. (Source:

Infrared sensor communication is not a new concept, having existed for years in standard appliance remote controls. The technology used to combat piracy would in essence be the same as that which causes our most popular devices to turn on and off, change channels and adjust volume control. Apple would be one of the first, however, to use the technology as a deterrent.

Sensors Used As Informational Resource

The patent also outlined "next steps" in the implementation of the technology, including ways for camera-equipped devices to be used as an informational resource rather than a prevention tool.

For example, the technology could one day be used in a museum to transmit informational text to a smartphone. Pointing a camera in the direction of a piece of artwork could display information about the work onto the screen. (Source:

Apple has yet to provide a timeframe signaling the start of their infrared piracy campaign.

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