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This Anti-Snooping Patent Is the Anti-Google Glass

Image: United States Patent and Trademark Office
Yesterday, wannabe American glassholes with $1500 to spare flocked to buy Google Glass in the still-in-beta device’s one-day public sale. I say “flocked" despite it not being clear exactly who many people had been waiting to get their hands on Glass, though CNN reports that at least one colour, the white “cotton” frame, sold out.
While offering a limited purchase period is a surefire way to raise hype (although I was a little surprised at the lack of buzz yesterday, perhaps because I’m in the UK where it wasn’t available), general reactions to Glass still seemed very divided. Sure,it’s getting cooler, but it’s still raising privacy issues and stirring conflict, with another explorer reportedly attacked for wearing the headset in San Francisco this week.
So while enthusiasts were heading to get their explorer eyes, Geek Wire uncovered a very different (and currently entirely hypothetical) bit of tech—the anti-Glass, if you will. They unearthed a patent filing that details technology to detect and respond to an “intruding camera” that’s trying to sneak a peek at your own devices—and among the inventors listed are a certain Bill Gates and former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold.
Dated March of this year, the filing describes the invention as follows:
The system includes an electronic media display device having a screen configured to display content, a sensor, and a processing circuit. The processing circuit is configured to obtain information from the sensor, analyze the information to determine a presence of a camera, and edit any displayed content in response to the presence of the camera.
Basically, if you’re watching something on a screen you don’t want others to see, the system would pick up when a camera was trying to edge in for a look and then edit the content, presumably obscuring it from peeping toms. The patent suggests potentially sensitive content could include “private photographs, private videos, financial records, medical records, or any other content that the person may not want other people to view,” which I’ll leave to your imagination.
While the patent doesn't explicitly mention Glass (as is the norm), Figure 8 above is pretty suggestive. The patent also adds that cameras could also be fixed to buildings and vehicles rather than held by a person. Though with around five million CCTV cameras in the UK, I’m thinking it might just be easier not to view dodgy content in public if you’re that bothered.
The filing does suggest, however, that you could instead get an alert when a camera is around, which might be a little more useful—and potentially interesting just as a tracking device to see how watched you are. It also includes a diagram of such a device integrated into an ATM to detect if someone’s trying to film the screen as you use it, which also suggests how it might be appropriated as a security tool.
Of course, this being a patent filing, it’s all just ideas for now, so don’t get your hopes up to have some sort of magic camera detector by the time Glass inevitably hits the mainstream. But like anti-drone burqas and anti-facial recognition make-up, it’s further evidence that as technology evolves, so does anti-technology technology. In the future, as things come full circle, we’ll presumably be seeing cameras with technology that’s anti-camera detecting technology. 
TOPICS: patentsGoogle GlasscamerasCCTVFuturesanti-technology


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