RIM Patent Targets Sneaky Cell Phone Photographers

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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Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.