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Apple's killjoy patent may thwart illegal mobile recording

Out-of-focus fan videos of live concerts may be under threat as Apple reveals patent that could allow venues to disable iDevice cameras.

A new Apple patent could put an end to users photographing and filming live events with their iPhones. By fitting its mobile devices with an infrared receiver, Apple could allow venues to block certain functions based on location, our sister site CNET News reports.

Ultra-paranoid rock bands could require that IR beams shower the audience, preventing enabled phones from taking the low-quality live footage no one ever watches we've all grown to know and love.

Even if recording were allowed, on-board software might pick up branding or a copyright notice to watermark on the footage.

We could imagine highly sensitive locations might also employ the technology, though a simple stop and search might be cheaper and more effective.

Less Orwellian uses might include the ability for museums and galleries to run guided tours directly on visitors' mobile devices instead of having to use those clunky electronic guides with headphones you're never quite sure who's worn before you. You could achieve much the same result with QR codes, NFC technology or RFIDs.

The patent doesn't make it clear where the infrared sensors would be placed. It would make sense to encase it next to the camera lens to stop pesky kids simply blocking the sensor with their finger. Hopefully there's another patent in the works that detects surrounding sound and prevents users from making lousy audio recordings.

Should this technology ever make it to a mobile, it could be put to some interesting uses when coupled with augmented reality technology. Then again, imagine the hacking possibilities -- while there might not be any real security risks involved, you could seriously mess with Apple fanboys by causing their cameras to stop working for no apparent reason. We see long lines forming at Genius Bars up and down the country.