June 3, 2011
Patently Apple, as is their wont, has uncovered another new gem in Apple's ever-growing technology portfolio. This one, concerned with the possible implementation of infrared camera sensors, could be a boon or a boondoggle, depending on your point of view. Essentially, future iDevice camera systems could be built with infrared receivers designed to scan for externally-located instructional emissions. Patently Apple's explanation is a typically long read, but the main points of consideration are included in the following two paragraphs from the blog report:
In some embodiments, a device could, based on received infrared data, display information to a user relating to an object near the user. For example, an infrared emitter could be located near an object and generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes information about that object. The electronic device could then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and display the information about the object to the user. In [other] embodiments, a device could, based on received infrared data, disable a function of the device. For example, an infrared emitter could be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited, and the emitter could generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands to disable the recording functions of devices. An electronic device could then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device's recording function based on the command.The first use mentioned seems okay, and would be useful in museums, conventions, and other exhibitions. However, the second idea -- that of preventing the camera or other system functions from operating within some defined infrared scope -- is worrisome. In fact, the picture included with Apple's patent documentation amplifies said worry, illustrating a concert performance effectively blocking the crowd's ability to shoot photos or videos. Personally, I can't think of too many advancements that, if used as intended, are more likely to enrage a product's user-base than this particular one. "Sensor" and "censor" are two different words, and Apple would do well to keep them that way.