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New System to Counter Photo and Video Devices 401

Incongruity writes " is reporting that a team from Georgia Tech has developed and demoed a system that actively searches for and effectively blinds cameras and camcorders within a 10 meter radius." From the article: "In this system, a device bathes the region in front of it with infrared light. When an intense retroreflection indicates the presence of a digital camera lens, the device then fires a localized beam of light directly at that point. Thus, the picture gets washed out."
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New System to Counter Photo and Video Devices

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  • by TheOtherAgentM ( 700696 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:03PM (#13599700)
    Paparazzi Shields for famous celebrities. It's like a force field!
    • by LurkerXXX ( 667952 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:10PM (#13599758)
      Better yet, protection from police speed cameras.
    • by tambo ( 310170 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:26PM (#13599886)
      Paparazzi Shields for famous celebrities. It's like a force field!

      And also, fertile grounds for the class-action lawsuit craze of 2008. At least the court reporters will have some fun transcribing "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

      - David Stein

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:03PM (#13599702)
    Can't wait to see how many people will go blind with this contraption!
    • I was thinking the exact same thing. I'm not a biology major by any stretch (boy, could that phrase be misconstrued!), so I don't know what kind of effect such infrared beams would have on the eyes. But if the beam is going to be strong enough to completely blind a camera, I'd be really concerned about what it could do for the eyes.

      Maybe I'm just slightly paranoid and it will have no effect at all. But since the article doesn't state anything about impact to human eyes and most eyewear protection is m
      • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <> on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:12PM (#13599780) Homepage
        A remote control will blind a camera in night shot mode, but it won't blind anybody. It can actually make a pretty cool looking lens flare, depending on the remote and the camera... I wouldn't be too worried.
      • But if the beam is going to be strong enough to completely blind a camera, I'd be really concerned about what it could do for the eyes.

        It isn't the IR that blinds the camera - the IR is simply to look for reflections, like those given off by lenses (and, of course, eyeglasses). When the IR gets a "hit", a directed beam of light (flashlight on a servo?) is aimed at the lens. Pretty low tech really. Given that we've had "lens detection" devices for years (decades? The military is a big fan), the real story s
        • Upon rereading the article it does state that it returns a beam of light. Either I miscontrued that as being infrared light or they're misrepresenting it as being visible light. If it's visible light, that even brings the issue more to the forefront. It might beam directed, visible light right into someone's eyes if by chance the person's glasses are mistakes as camera lenses.

          Again, we're all somewhat ignorant about the technical specifics of this unit, so my concerns might be totally baseless. This
          • It might beam directed, visible light right into someone's eyes if by chance the person's glasses are mistakes as camera lenses.

            That's how I read it, and there's the problem. Even if there's no risk to the eyes themselves, it opens up a huge potential for liability from people being suddenly (temporarily) blinded and/or startled while engaged in something risky - using power tools, pouring a cup of scalding hot coffee, handling then dropping fragile/expensive equipment...

    • "Can't wait to see how many people will go blind with this contraption!"

      If they use IR for the flash, nobody will go blind.
    • Yeah that was my first thought too. First unlucky guy that walks by one of these wearing old style contact lenses is screwed.

  • What about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by idonthack ( 883680 )
    People with glasses?

    I don't want to get blinded every time I walk up to a trade show display.
    (-.-) Give me back my damn feet!
    Generated by SlashdotRndSig [] via GreaseMonkey []
    • So, an infrared light would blind you? Are you some kind of X-man?
    • If I read this correctly, they use infrared to detect cameras, but then blind them with the range the cameras record, that is, visible light.
      • No, it's all infra-red, because CCD and CMOS cameras are sensitive to infra-red as visible light. you can verify this for yourself by pointing your TV remote at your LCD equipped digital camera (video or still) in a darkish room. You should be able to see the white glow from the TV remote on the LCD viewfinder.

        That's why this idea is useless for preventing photography with a plain old film camera - it's a lot easier to spot someone using one of those, however.
    • Re:What about (Score:5, Informative)

      by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:39PM (#13599978) Homepage
      Read the goddamn article:

      How it works
      The Georgia Tech system essentially exploits the "retroreflective" property of digital camera lenses. When light strikes a retroreflective surface, a portion of the light bounces back to the original source. While eyeglasses, bottles, watches and other glass surfaces are retroreflective, a coating on virtually all digital camera lenses puts cameras in a class of their own.
  • FP? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Wouldn't this blind people with glasses?
  • A Tale. (Score:4, Funny)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:04PM (#13599711) Homepage Journal
    It was the coldest winter on record and the poor little match girl found she could find no buyers for her wares and she began to shivver.

    She lit a match and felt the warm glow of its meager heat before it burned down to her fingers and she dropped it in the snow. Then she lit another and another until all her matches were gone and she began to feel icy fingers of winter clutching at her tiny frail frame.

    She moved along the street looking for an open door, shelter, any shelter. Then she thought, what's this? She felt a deep warmth the likes of which she had not felt since her mother's embrace. It was glorious. She sat down to rest and soon fell asleep.

    And thus it came to pass, she was found roast to a golden brown, like a Thanksgiving turkey, before the offices of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Funny you got modded offtopic. I thought so too, until I read "Central Intelligence Agency". Funny.
    • OMG! This got modded offtopic! Now, clearly my comment on the modding *IS* offtopic and will soon be modded thus, but perhaps the moderators need to actually READ the post before moderating?
      • Re:A Tale. (Score:4, Funny)

        by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @08:47PM (#13600462)

        perhaps the moderators need to actually READ the post before moderating?

        You must be new here.

        -- The price of eternal vigilance is a dollar a day and half an hour of your time.
        Carefully choose a responsible newspaper. Support it, read it, write to it. Do your part.

  • theater (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 42Penguins ( 861511 )
    I would guess the MPAA & Co. would love this, but would multiple units be required for a theater (line-of-sight...) or would they be useful mounted on ceilings, what with the angles?
    • Re:theater (Score:3, Insightful)

      The real question is whether or not these people got a grant from MPAA & Co to develop it...
    • I was thinking exactly the same thing, but you beat me to it. Maybe a screen that bathes the viewers in IR (either from rear projection pass through, or just projected along with the movie). Or, four of these, one mounted at each corner of the screen.
    • Re:theater (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @08:46PM (#13600461) Homepage Journal
      mpaa wouldn't love it straight..

      but companies selling snake oil to mpaa definetely will love this. it doesn't matter if it works or not for them either, it's not like random movie goers made versions that end up the net anyways but they could still sell 10k worth of equipment that does absolutely nothing as mandatory to every cinema there is, equipment that would not save mpaa one penny but would cost them tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. that's how mpaa and cinemas are REALLY losing money, by paying to people who sell them snakeoil to fix their "problem". like riaa is losing money by buying "copy protection" tech that doesn't really work at all nor could it ever increase their revenues even if it did.

  • This device was already described in SciFi. Unfortunately, I have the brain of a 2 year old cow after a long day of work, so I can't remember the book.

    There was this dream amusment park, and a little kid runs away to the park, and then aliens come.

    Oh, right.

    Free Lunch, by Spider Robinson. The creater of the dream park got his money making this sorta thing to counter paparrattzi. Guess Spider didn't think of the other uses cameras are being put...

  • by Crixus ( 97721 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:05PM (#13599719)
    Heck, didn't Alan Bean discover a way to do this in 1969 while on an Apollo 12 EVA? (he says tongue firmly in cheek).
  • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:06PM (#13599721) Homepage
    I would sure hope that the localized beam of light doesn't do any damage to any camera at all... otherwise it would be pretty easy for the person with the cam to file suit for damage, despite what they may or may not have been doing at the time.

    On a related thought... I wonder what it would take to trick the system into shooting the beam at ones eyes... heck, with a system like this you could just claim that you were blinded by the system for a few moments and now you suffer from crippling migraines and what not... ka-ching!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:06PM (#13599725)
    Big deal. International Rescue had them already, 30 years ago, to protect strangers from photographing the Thunderbirds.
  • In this system, a device bathes the region in front of it with infrared light.

    Are there any infrared filters that can be made easily? If so, I see a counter to this!
    • It filters it, doesn't stop it from reflecting it. The infrared doesn't search the inside of the lense, it looks for a reflection of light from the face of the lens. A filter would not stop that to my knowledge (which is limited)
    • Actually, most video cameras already have an infrared filter. Vidicon tubes and CCD images don't have exactly the same spectral response as the human eye, and both extend into the near infrared. The filter is there to prevent the visible light image from being blurred by incident IR. I've removed the filters from cameras in order to make them into crude night-vision devices.

      Those cheap camera modules you can buy from the likes of Marlin P. Jones don't have infrared filters, which is why they will "see in
    • TFA mentions that IR filters "present some challenges ... though it turns out that the camera detector can spot lenses cloaked with infrared filters." However, I think if someone intentionally tried to secure a camera against this device, they would have a lot more luck. The filters they tested against probably had similar glare properties to a camera lens. So take a camera with an IR filter, give the filter itself a good non-glare coating, put something like the Leopold Anti-Reflective Device [] on it, and

  • by RobNich ( 85522 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:07PM (#13599730) Homepage
    The next step is a video/still camera that detects an infrared source and closes an iris to keep the light from bouncing back. Or better yet, a coating that keeps the infrared from bouncing out of the lens.
  • Just find an early adopter and sell the god damn thing. Why do inventors have so much trouble making a business these days?
  • Put two of these in a room, and let them fight it out...
  • overengineered (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:09PM (#13599751)
    This seems to be seriously overengineered, as you could do the same thing with a passive IR system.

    They're using an IR emitter to generate a reflection that is sensed with the camera to trigger an ambient light source to overwhelm the offending camera. Not to mention the modulated light attack that would launch on the eyeballs of anyone happening to be looking in that direction.

    seems like since CCD's are IR responsive in the first place (which is how they are detecting them), why not just continuously bathe the area in an overdose of IR and skip the detection and visible light altogether?

    • Bathing an area in high levels of IR would require a metric butt ton of energy, most of it showing up in the form of heat. You'd basically have to turn the area into a toaster oven.
      • not necessarily, if you simply ringed the area you wanted to "protect" with high output IR LED's you could wash out the photographic opportunity for no more than one quarter metric butt tons of juice by my calculations.
    • Actually, if you're really concerned with it (as you said, but on a twist here....) why not just bathe the SCREEN in infrared?

      The screen would reflect on all angles pretty much evenly, but the normal moviegoers wouldn't have an issue seeing the normal projected image.

      This would probably cost more however. The typical installation I'm imagining would have a 1/2 disco ball mounted above or below the screen, throwing a bath of IR all over the place.
      • Re:overengineered (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:55PM (#13600112)
        This would probably cost more however. The typical installation I'm imagining would have a 1/2 disco ball mounted above or below the screen, throwing a bath of IR all over the place.
        that's not a bad idea actually. It could be very effective for concerns about videotaping new movie releases for piracy. set up a disco ball and a high powered IR spotlight. The crowd couldn't see anything, but cameras would get that moving starfield pattern across everthing making the recording unusable. It wouldn't prevent taping, but the result would be horrible to try to watch.

        you better patent that quick...

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:09PM (#13599755) Homepage Journal
    I'm gonna get like 10 for every room 'cause I know you're watching and trying to keep me from talking about the Alie^H^H ...mmmmpppph

    [Remote Peer Quit Unexpectedly]
  • by drfrog ( 145882 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:10PM (#13599764) Homepage
    now the police can give the beat downs without any fear of being caught

  • talk about getting the red eye out

    cat's eyes are highly evolved to function at night via internal reflection

    so anyone with a cat should get used to having a blind cat
  • Filters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChaosMt ( 84630 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:14PM (#13599793) Homepage
    Thanks goodness, no one has invented the infrared filter!

    Am I wrong, or does this seem too easy to defeat?
    • Most CCD cameras have an IR cut filter, which reflects IR - I'm guessing that's exactly why they can look for strong IR retroreflection. If that's the case, then to defeat the system, you could simply remove the IR filter, though you might need to do some correction on your images after shooting.
  • Damn!!! No more voyer pron.
  • How long before someone takes this technology to "blind" the security cameras at a casino or other location that handles large sums of cash?
  • I'm just starting to get into photography, but isnt this something a good IR filter would block out?
  • If you're a papparazzi, you don't want to get rid of that 35mm film camera just yet then. This device won't affect those, unless the photographer is using infra-red film.
  • Am I Wrong? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Snorpus ( 566772 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @07:22PM (#13599852)
    ... or wouldn't a portable one of these be a great way to take out all the cameras in, say, a bank?

    There's still other details to work out, like the armed guards, the exploding ink in the money packets, etc., but I'm glad those Georgia engineers solved one of my problems.

    • Re:Am I Wrong? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @08:28PM (#13600341) Homepage
      Did you forget all the Mark I Eyeballs in the bank? Unless you want to try breaking in when the bank is closed, with all the cash locked in vaults and alarms all around. Also, I really shouldn't be helping you out but I doubt you'll make it very far anyway - there's a very low tech solution, used for centuries which they call masks. Sometimes people want to find an absurdly complex and technological solutions to simple problems.

    • Re:Am I Wrong? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      well a radio operated bomb (or a fake radio operated bomb) will take care of the dye packets, make sure the teller knows that if any dye packets go off or anyone runs out of the building while you are still in sight the building will be ripped apart by shrapnel... they won't put the dye packets in.

      not that i would know anything about robbing banks
  • What about an identical system to flood the sensor with IR light and take the shot ? ;)
  • Once the tech has matured.. and I bathe my license plate in infrared, would that therefore block the speed camera from taking the picture of my license plate?

    There was something called chameleon plates a little while ago that did a similar thing. They reflected the light of the speed camera's flash so that they couldn't take photos of your license plate.

    This is another step in that it is an active device in that it shines light into the camera.
    • There was an episode of Mythbusters on this. They didn't have an anti-reflective plate cover though. What they did do is solder 300 or so infrared LED's around the plate.

      Didn't affect the speed gun in the slightest. In my travels, I use a RADAR detector on long journeys, but in most cases, staying within 5-10mph of the speed limit (and driving an old man car! Grand Marquis) helps lots.
  • So I filter this crap out and have the camera set to record when it detects a blocking attempt.. an easy way to know when it might be worth recording.
  • so if people had a personal version, they could avoid getting photographed repeatedly in city streets?

    they will have to license such a device as to prevent terrorists from being able to use them to avoid being identified.

    just think, you are a wedding photographer, and a number of people forget to turn off their personal photo-obsfucators (Apples iNoPhoto). the horror.

  • Denial of service (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So businesses are going to spend thousands of dollars on this technology so that they have an automated means to blind camera phones. It works by detecting the reflection of infrared light off a camera's lens and directing a 'blinding' beam back to the point of reflection. It probably has one detector and one blinding beam.

    Let's think. Two people set 10-20 feet apart create independent sources of reflected infrared light that cannot be covered by the same beam -- the interposed populace will not be pleased
  • by John Sokol ( 109591 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @09:46PM (#13600765) Homepage Journal
    I know I sugested that about a year ago here on slashdot. // d=0&commentsort=0&tid=158&tid=126&tid=153&tid=173& tid=155&tid=137&mode=thread&cid=11485581 []

    Part of "No Pictures, Thanks" from 1/26/05

      It's actualy easier, you just need a high powered IR source, such as a bunch of LED's,
      the Cameras AGC automaticly adjusts so you turn totaly dark.

  • Thunderbirds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mknewman ( 557587 ) * on Monday September 19, 2005 @10:17PM (#13600914)
    They had this 35 years ago (or will have it 55 years from now, depending on your perspective) on the Thunderbirds puppet show. I noticed that this disappeared in the recent (lousy) live action film. This of course begs the question, does art immitate life or vice versa.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"