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RIM Patent Targets Sneaky Cell Phone Photographers

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 23 comments

Patent application was filed on New Year's Day.

With most smartphones coming with front and rear-facing cameras, it's never been easier to take photos on the go, especially the kind of photos that you're trying to take on the sly. However, it seems RIM is looking out for the greater good and hoping to cut down on the number of sneaky photos being taken with cell phones. The company has applied for a patent that attempts to stop people from using their phones to take 'inconspicuous' photos.

Filed January 2013, the patent introduces the idea of camera-steady focus requirements, essentially increasing the time it takes to capture a photograph with a mobile phone. It's a simple idea that doesn't require fancy technology, however, it does sound pretty effective.

"As more handheld devices incorporate camera functionalities, organizations and individuals with privacy concerns are more vulnerable to unauthorized disclosure," RIM explained. "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. In short, this process extends the normal 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."

RIM says the camera restrictions in question can be communicated to the device via wireless network and as part of an IT policy, which should come in handy for companies worried about snap-happy spies.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    freggo , January 3, 2013 11:40 AM
    Great Idea !
    As the RIM stock is not falling fast enough come up with an idea to turn off potential buyers by fiddling with the camera's performance.
    Never mind 'sneaky' photos; what about emergency situations?
    Like you witness a hit and run and want to take a quick shot of the vehicle
    that is quickly leaving the accident scene.

    Those who want to take 'sneaky' photos will still do so; they simply switch to a different phone or device.
  • 13 Hide
    gtvr , January 3, 2013 11:03 AM
    So now you can't take action shots? Sports photography? This is just going to cause problems.
  • 10 Hide
    Hupiscratch , January 3, 2013 11:34 AM
    It's RIM way to say it want to bankrupt faster. Not that somebody goes after a Blackberry for it's camera capabilities, but this is like those intrusive DRM: the good guy will suffer while the bad guy will find an easy way.
Other Comments
    Display all 23 comments.
  • 13 Hide
    gtvr , January 3, 2013 11:03 AM
    So now you can't take action shots? Sports photography? This is just going to cause problems.
  • 10 Hide
    Hupiscratch , January 3, 2013 11:34 AM
    It's RIM way to say it want to bankrupt faster. Not that somebody goes after a Blackberry for it's camera capabilities, but this is like those intrusive DRM: the good guy will suffer while the bad guy will find an easy way.
  • 6 Hide
    chronicbint , January 3, 2013 11:37 AM
    One of the criteria I look for in a smartphone is the ability to take a decent picture quickly. This is such a pointless feature.
  • 14 Hide
    freggo , January 3, 2013 11:40 AM
    Great Idea !
    As the RIM stock is not falling fast enough come up with an idea to turn off potential buyers by fiddling with the camera's performance.
    Never mind 'sneaky' photos; what about emergency situations?
    Like you witness a hit and run and want to take a quick shot of the vehicle
    that is quickly leaving the accident scene.

    Those who want to take 'sneaky' photos will still do so; they simply switch to a different phone or device.
  • 7 Hide
    dns7950 , January 3, 2013 11:41 AM
    What a stupid, useless patent... Let me get this straight, they want to make it so you have to hold up your camera for a while before you can take a picture?? So if you see something happening that you really want a picture of, you might miss it because the company says it's a privacy concern to be able to snap quick shots?? Who in their right mind would purchase a phone with such a "feature".. I certainly would't. What a retarded idea, whoever thought of that is a total moron... There are so many many situations in which it's not feasible to be able to hold the camera focused on the subject, where you just have to snap a pic and hope it's a good one.
  • 5 Hide
    mikenygmail , January 3, 2013 12:01 PM
    dns7950What a stupid, useless patent... Let me get this straight, they want to make it so you have to hold up your camera for a while before you can take a picture?? So if you see something happening that you really want a picture of, you might miss it because the company says it's a privacy concern to be able to snap quick shots?? Who in their right mind would purchase a phone with such a "feature".. I certainly would't. What a retarded idea, whoever thought of that is a total moron... There are so many many situations in which it's not feasible to be able to hold the camera focused on the subject, where you just have to snap a pic and hope it's a good one.


    I agree completely, this is the worst idea in the history of bad ideas.
  • 8 Hide
    fnh , January 3, 2013 12:04 PM
    I know they're called Research in Motion, but they didn't have take it so literally to their cameras.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 3, 2013 12:19 PM
    What's next RIM? Integrate a gun on Blackberry devices that only shoots your own foot?
  • 1 Hide
    87ninefiveone , January 3, 2013 12:31 PM
    If they want to protect privacy for the greater good then why did they patent it?
  • 0 Hide
    jadedmonkey28 , January 3, 2013 12:34 PM
    RIM is still in business?????? Getting patents like this it makes you wonder why people even consider them these days as a worthwhile phone provider.
  • 0 Hide
    eastland12 , January 3, 2013 12:40 PM
    Great simple idea, so long as it is a feature that is off by default and if initiated by a corporate IT not able to be turned off by the end user.
  • 1 Hide
    jasonkaler , January 3, 2013 12:40 PM
    RIM couldn't find a way to improve their crappy camera, so they just patented it's flaws.
  • 0 Hide
    AdrianPerry , January 3, 2013 1:01 PM
    As I think everyone else has said....what an awful idea.
  • -2 Hide
    Gundam288 , January 3, 2013 1:02 PM
    raptormnlWhat's next RIM? Integrate a gun on Blackberry devices that only shoots your own foot?

    The Blackberry Zip, it's a zip gun and a phone! currently awaiting EPA approval for the lead bullets it uses. Just don't try taking it thru an airport!
  • -2 Hide
    rjandric , January 3, 2013 1:28 PM
    For the ones that are raging about this issue, this is meant to be used in managed environment like work place, so it is up to admin to disable or enable the feature. I am pretty sure for this will be turned off personal use, so why hate?
  • 1 Hide
    Parsian , January 3, 2013 1:33 PM
    RIM GTFO here. You folks have ur heads up ur arse. Someone who wants to shoot underskirt will get the more concealable cameras with better low light features. Someone who wants to take pictures of private documents while in bank line ups or w/e has already own an android handset with camera shutter sound disabled via customization...

    ur responsibility is to make good devices, and its the users' responsibility of how to use it.
  • 0 Hide
    dark_knight33 , January 3, 2013 4:01 PM
    rjandricFor the ones that are raging about this issue, this is meant to be used in managed environment like work place, so it is up to admin to disable or enable the feature. I am pretty sure for this will be turned off personal use, so why hate?


    Because people don't like being "managed". This is a paranoid security manager/control freak dream feature. Another irritating way to exert power over your staff. Fact of the matter is, if there is a concern of someone taking pictures of your work product, then they shouldn't have phones in the work place. Making the camera more irritating to use in name of "SECURITY" is something that deserves a kick in the balls to it's inventor.
  • 0 Hide
    lamorpa , January 3, 2013 4:07 PM
    Could they make it dial more slowely too?
  • -2 Hide
    bustapr , January 3, 2013 5:28 PM
    just when I was starting to root for RIM, they do this. this is just going to backfire on their asses if they ever implement it on their phones. theres no bigger customer repelant these days in the phone department than a shitty camera. the camera itself may be good quality, but its still shitty if your not able to take fast shots.
  • 1 Hide
    farensabri , January 3, 2013 10:23 PM
    gtvrSo now you can't take action shots? Sports photography? This is just going to cause problems.

    you don't do sports in the office
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