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Canon eyes biometric photo tagging

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If you’re sick of other folk claiming the kudos for your well-framed shots then Canon may have the answer. The company has filed a patent application for a technology that allows each camera snap to be embedded with a digital watermark of your iris.

Canon’s camera would incorporate an infra-red sensor to capture the photographer's iris and embed a record of it against each picture, ensuring copyright issues are always clear cut. The application, entitled "Picture-taking Apparatus and Method of Controlling Same", has been filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Before taking a series of photos, the user would set the camera into a registration mode and look through its viewfinder. This would capture an image of the user’s iris and enable it to be attached to each photograph. To capture the user’s iris, an additional set of optics would need to be built into the camera to face the user. However, it’s unknown what technical implications this would have on the size, weight and cost of such a camera.

Although many businesses already embed visible watermarks, such as a company logo, onto photographs to stop unauthorised use, they often obscure the image. A Canon spokesman told the BBC that it hasn't yet yet decided if the watermark, which has a file-size impact of about 500 bytes, will be provided as a visible image or embedded into the photo’s code.

Canon hasn’t said when users can expect such a camera to make it onto the market.

Japanese electronics firm Oki has already developed an iris-recognition prototype for mobile phones. The software is based on an iris recognition algorithm that Oki claims fits around your mobile’s camera, but requires it to have an ability of at least one-megapixel.

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