Is Apple Trying to Stop Us From Using Our iPhones at Concerts?

If you’ve been to a concert, performance, or even a play in the past few years, you’ve probably found yourself watching the show through your mobile, at least for a short while as you try to capture the moment on record. You’ve probably filmed, photographed, Snapchatted etc. during the show.

It’s possible that your ability to do this may soon vanish. Apple recently received approval from the U.S. Patent Office dealing with this idea. The patent, which was originally filed in 2011, is for technology that uses infrared signals to block your phone from taking pictures or videos in a certain space.

The idea is an interesting one, and it certainly has strong support from both sides of the argument. On one hand, it’s annoying to go to a concert with most people simply standing there and filming, rather than being active members of the audience and enjoying the moment- whether it is dancing, singing along or simply watching. And sometimes, having phones in the air can obstruct the view of the stage. For some people, it takes away the fun of being in the moment because they’re basically thrust into recording and social sharing.

Phones In The Air At A ConcertPhones in the air at concerts can be distracting for all involvedCredit: WOW 24/7

On the other hand, there’s a fear that phone-restricting technology like that takes a way one’s rights. Who are you to say we can’t capture the memories we want to keep?

There are also two sides of the argument for the concert performers, too. On one hand, it can be frustrating and distracting for them to be surrounded by people recording, rather than interacting with the performance. Plus, we imagine that it could often be disappointing that people are more interested in recording you than they are with actually experiencing the moment, and paying attention to you perfecting your craft.

For up-and-coming performers, however, it can be very beneficial for them to be filmed and put on social media so that their talent will be spread to more people, allowing their popularity to increase. But, it’s possible that if this technology is implemented, it would be used with bigger venues and popular artists, so this wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

The thought of your phone technology being disabled just because of your location is scary. But, this isn’t the case with the technology we’re talking about. If there was an emergency at the concert, you would still have access to calling and texting. The device would simply prevent or seriously limit your ability to take pictures and video. It would either completely disable your camera when you point it towards the infrared technology, or possibly blur or watermark your images.

A diagram from Apple's patent filingA diagram from Apple’s patent filingCredit:

Apple believes there are other uses for the patent. For example, putting the technology within a museum or tourist spot could give iPhone users immediate information about what they are looking at. But, this may also mean more people walking around looking at their phones…

On a more worrying note, there is also concern that the technology could be used to cover up crime and injustice. In recent years we have been hearing about things like police brutality only because it was filmed on a phone. This technology in the wrong hands could have prevented those videos from coming to light.

So as you can see, there is a lot of information on both sides of the argument. It will be interesting to see what Apple does with the technology, but we think it’s unlikely that they will commercialize it just yet, due to the likely public backlash and the potential misuse.

What do you think about not being able to film at a concert? Let us know!

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