Apple’s new anti-photog patent, and prior paparazzi-blocking tech

Apple’s new patent for (among other things) blocking photography by audience members is not a new idea. The idea harks back to — but does not mention — an earlier anti-paparazzi patent by Wilbert Leon Smith, Jr. and Keelo Lamance Jackson.

Benjamin Boles, writing for the web site Thump, explains about Apple’s idea, in a report headlined “A Tech Expert Explains What Apple’s Camera Blocking Patent Means for Concertgoers“:

While the technology has a wide variety of potential uses, perhaps most notably for blocking cameras and video recordings at concerts and other events, fears were also sparked that it could be used to suppress documenting incidents involving police violence.

In 2013 we described the earlier patent, which is based on an even earlier patent, in a report in The Guardian called “Flashy ways to fight off paparazzi, spies … and anyone else“. It begins:

A new invention aims to foil paparazzi who try to photograph people who do not wish to be photographed. Wilbert Leon Smith, Jr. and Keelo Lamance Jackson of California obtained a patent last year for what they call “Inhibiting Unwanted Photography and Video Recording”. Their invention builds on a simple idea patented in 2005 by Jeremy and Joseph Caulfield from Arizona.

The Caulfields equipped celebs with a flashgun that fires automatically the instant another flashgun fires nearby. Smith and Jackson’s device goes that bit better: it’s a rotating, swivelling, oscillating device that can emit multiple strobe lights and other light beams for as long as the celebrity deems necessary.

The device has uses beyond deterring pesky paparazzi. As Smith and Jackson explain, it can also protect our own spy agencies against nosy foreign bad guys…

Here is a technical drawing from the Smith/Jackson anti-paparazzi patent:

paparazzi-patent-fig

BONUS: Martin Gardiner’s earlier report on the Smith/Jackson anti-paparazzi patent.

Improbable Research