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Friday, July 21, 2006

Researchers Claim Progress in Device to Disable Digital Cameras

Prototype anti-camera device at Georgia Tech

From LiveScience.com

"Researchers [at Georgia Tech] have built a prototype device that disables digital cameras. Future versions might thwart unwanted photo-taking at a specific location and even prevent clandestine videos from being made.

"The technology might one day prevent espionage in a building or stop pirating of movies from theaters.

"It could even be used to stop Mom from taking pictures of her child with Santa to avoid paying for the professional shot.

"The device uses sensors, lighting equipment, a projector and a computer to scan for, find and neutralize digital cameras. It looks for the reflectivity and shape of the image-producing sensors used in digital cameras. Future versions might operate in the invisible infrared range so the neutralizing technology would work unnoticed...."

READ ON

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON with thanks to R.S.

Featured Comment by Robert Roaldi: "Ok, but where are the cell phone jammers? That's what we really need.

"What about BS detectors? Man, could we use some of those.

"But what we really want is a time interpolator. Take a picture of a bank at 10:00 am and then again at 10:30 am and then interpolate to 10:16 am when it was being robbed and catch the guys.

"Seriously though, if they could plant these anti-digicam devices at those target-rich New York city bridges, we might not have to read about all those photographers being hassled by security guards that are protecting us from terrorists...."


Mike Comments: Don't anybody kid themselves...this technology is being developed for one purpose, which is to prevent the use of stationary videocameras in darkened commercial movie theaters, and that's pretty much all.

16 Comments:

Blogger MJFerron said...

But nothing stops my Yashicamat 124g. Nothing. :0

6:47 AM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

Ok, but where are the cell phone jammers? That's what we really need.

What about BS detectors? Man, could we use some of those.

But what we really want is a time interpolator. Take a picture of a bank at 10:00 am and then again at 10:30 am and then interpolate to 10:16 am when it was being robbed and catch the guys.

Seriously though, if they could plant these anti-digicam devices at those target-rich New York city bridges, we might not have to read about all those photographers being hassled by security guards that are protecting us from terrorists.

I mean, really, people are dieing the world over from awful diseases because they can't afford the simplest life-saving drugs but some folks can get money to research and develop this nonsense. Maybe, we are just running out of ideas.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Dave New said...

I've commented on a semi-related art fair phenomena here (sticking signs all over your booth banning picture-taking):

http://theoldmoose.blogspot.com/2006/07/online-photographer-researchers-claim.html

8:37 AM  
Blogger Andy Frazer said...

Robert,

Thankfully, cell phone jammers are already available, and quite cost-effective. Just search Yahoo! for "cell phone jammer". They seem to run about $300-$500.

I've never used one, but the day that the airlines start allowing cell phones on the planes, I'm getting one of these puppies.

9:12 AM  
Blogger robert e said...

Hey, this technology could save film!

If it actually works, could also be used to disable digital news cameras. Instant censorship.

Some thoughts on testing for retroreflection:

Shines a light into peoples' eyes. Lawsuits?

Never mind earrings, can it tell the difference between a CCD and a retina?

It can't see through a shutter or mirror. What about a polarizer?

New market for anti-retroreflective filters. Invest now!

11:32 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Robert, your last paragraph is the old "we can send a man to the moon but we can't do X" argument. It's rooted in good intentions but the logic is flawed.

You maintain that this project is nonsense, and maybe it is. And maybe it leads to something realy useful down the road....you just don't know. Part of doing science is not having to guarantee that the results are going to be immediately useful. It's easy to roll your eyes when someone wants to study fish poop or beer cans, but that's the nature of basic research.

As a society, we've decided that R&D is a good thing, and we're going to spend a certain amount of money on it. If we demanded that it all be immediately useful, much of it would ever get done.

12:17 PM  
Blogger andrew stanney said...

apart fromthe obvious security issues which make sense if the technology were to beshrunk whats going to stop people abusing it and generally making life hell for the people who use digital cameras remeber laser pens ive got to admit ignorance about how far the technology could go but it still seems a fair point

12:21 PM  
Blogger Williams Landing said...

Ah but, with a DSLR, the sensor is hidden by the mirror except for the instant that a picture is being taken. And with DSLR prices declining rapidly...

12:26 PM  
Blogger LUMIXBLOG said...

film makes a comeback. best...skip

12:44 PM  
Blogger Bill Smith said...

Gee,
I know a way around this technology, its using a Nikon F or Leica M3, no batteries, no electronics, no problem:)

1:06 PM  
Blogger Andy Radin said...

this is more headline that story, good publicity for the university and not much more. but it should be noted that it wouldn't work with SLRs or any other devices with a shutter.

2:54 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

I used to read Scientific American and such, and marvel at all those fantastic technologies which were knocking on the door. Until I found out that the bulk of them just never really seemed to arrive. So these days I say: Let's see in for sale, then I'll look at it.
(An example is an experimental super-chip for digicams six years ago with like twenty stops of dynamic range. This has not been heard of since.)

3:36 PM  
Blogger Hiding Pup said...

Tourists are the new terrorists.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

Kevin,

Actually, I agree with you. It's difficult, if not impossible, to place a priori limits or even directions on research. By its very nature, you can't know where it leads. (I have some limited experience.)

But, as every researcher knows, when you make your results known, they are scrutinized for their accuracy, relevance, importance, etc. And, in that way, you find out what your research is worth. Not all research ends up being fruitful or worthwhile.

And I realize that my paragraph is lacking in intellectual rigour. For example, it's not true that if we forbade people to spend billions of dollars in gambling casinos, that they would then turn around and spend it on cancer research or helping the deserving poor. I am not that naive. On the other hand, that's no reason not to criticize people for blowing their loot on gambling.

When I make tongue-in-cheek criticisms, it's a mistake to apply too high levels of rigour to my logic. I'll fail every time. But if someone builds something that sounds stupid, I am going to make wise cracks about it.

It's possible that the work that led to this picture-avoidance system may have some really useful side benefit. More power to them if it does. It's just that the current application, jamming digicams, seems superfluous.

But we spend billions on silly things all the time.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hi Robert -

Wow....we managed to have a civil exchange about a complex topic without a flame war.

You've temporarily restored my faith in humanity....thanks! :-)

12:01 PM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

I just saw on dpreview.com that Pentax have announced a digicam with face recognition. Pretty soon, they'll all have it.

7:38 AM  

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