Ray Guns In The Cinema: Camera Neutralizing Device Unveiled

Compulsive tinkerers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have built a prototype device that they say can stop digital cameras functioning in a given area. The device uses off-the-shelf equipment - camera-mounted sensors, lighting equipment, a projector and a computer - to scan for, identify and neutralize both still and video digital cameras. The researchers have their eye on two markets - protecting limited areas against clandestine photography and stopping video copying in larger areas such as theaters, explained Geogia Tech's Gregory Abowd.

Abowd said the device could be used to prevent espionage photography in government buildings, industrial settings or trade shows. Co-researcher James Clawson added that preventing movie copying could be a major application for the camera-blocking technology. "Movie piracy is a $3 billion-a-year problem. If someone videotapes a movie in a theater and then puts it up on the web that night or burns half a million copies to sell on the street - then the movie industry has lost a lot of in-theater revenue," said Clawson. The researchers say that movie theaters are likely to be a good setting for the technology, as a camera's CCD image sensor is retroreflective, meaning it sends light back directly to its origin rather than scattering it. Such retroreflection would make it relatively easy to detect and identify video cameras in a darkened theater.


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