RIM patents anti-spy cam technology

You might say it’s in line with Research in Motion’s long tradition of shipping smartphones without any cameras.

Just weeks before the RIM’s highly anticipated release of the BlackBerry 10, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, on Tuesday granted a patent filing by the company for a process that would stop a smartphone camera from taking pictures unless it is properly focused on a subject for a specified time. The restriction ostensibly thwarts any attempt to use the phone to take “spy cam” type shots which can be used to steal company information.


In its filing with the USPTO in January 1, RIM said it developed “camera-steady focus requirements for preventing inconspicuous use of cameras on handheld mobile communication devices.”

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“The camera restriction prevents a user from taking a picture of a subject if the device has not been steadily focused on the subject in question for a predetermined period of time,” according to RIM’s filing. “In short this process extends the normal use camera-taking procedure and thus requires the camera user to take pictures in a conspicuous manner – the rationale being that a camera user would be less likely to take unauthorized pictures if such actions could be easily recognized.”

The document did not mention how long that predetermined period would be. However, what could be a boon for enterprise security could arguably be a bummer for many users who love to take random snapshots with their smartphones.

The technology could be a very useful extra layer of security for many companies implementing a bring your own device policy. There is no indication that RIM plans to use the camera restriction on the BlackBerry 10 which is set to be released by the company later this month.


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