Microsoft proposes gadget feature disabling tech
'Please switch off your mobile' enforcement
Depending on your point of view, it’s either intensely annoying when someone uses their phone in a train’s quiet zone, or very annoying when you’re in one and want to use your phone.
Microsoft has made itself mediator and hopes to patent technology to ensure that if you shouldn’t be using a gadget in a certain place – then you physically can’t.
Microsoft’s brainwave is called Device Manners Policy (DMP) and it could ensure that if a sign says “No photography allowe”, then your camera or your phone's camera won’t work. DMP could also be used to block phones from receiving incoming calls during a meeting.
DMP isn’t designed to stop you using every feature on a particular gadget, just those that aren’t allowed at a certain location. For example, although incoming calls may be blocked during meetings, you might still be permitted to play Snake on the sly.
However, Microsoft seems unsure of how to best to implement such a draconian system and, according to the patent application, it’s considering several possible methods.
For example, a library’s network could connect to your device, by Wi-Fi or RF, and link the gadget to a server that supplies commands about what functions are and aren’t allowed in the library.
If the server connects to a mobile phone, for example, then the server may block the handset from taking pictures and receiving calls, while still allowing it to surf the internet using the library’s Wi-Fi network.
In another example, devices must first accept DMP rules before they are allowed to access any services. Accepting these rules would allow a server to connect to the gadget and block it from providing certain functions.
Microsoft DMP technology may sound simple in theory, but Register Hardware’s sceptical about the implementation of such services.
For example, Microsoft could add DMP compliance into Windows Mobile, but would Nokia do the same? If Kodak implemented the technology into its compact cameras, how would it affect the price of snappers? The British Library may stump up the cash to stop people photographing its books, but would Virgin pay for the required technology to ensure that all quiet zone customers really are quiet on every single train?
More information about Microsoft’s DMP patent application is available online here.
If this was an opt-in technology, I would be very interested. The number of times I've forgotten to turn of my mobile in a lecture or church service until half way though...
Take off the tin foil hats ppl
Typical knee-jerk anti MS reaction as always. I personally welcome the idea I can sit in a restaurant and eat my meal without some jerk shouting down his mobile to someone so loud that he doesn't even need the mobile, or watch a whole film without someone giving a running commentary of it to a friend outside.
For those making the case of the wife/friend/dog dying in front of your eyes and not being able to phone up, please try thinking rationally - it won't be MS who sets the policies of what you can or cannot do, it'll be the particular institution installing the feature. Chances are that "emergency calls" will be always on (like with your mobile phone keypad: even when it's locked, 112 can still be entered and dialled - try it... NO, NOT REALLY!). All that will be blocked is Mrs Smith from being able to phone hubby in the library for the vital task of picking up a bottle of milk en route home.
For those sky-watchers worried someone will hack in and (shock horror) stop you using your mobile, I am sure once the design is in progress, they'll find ways to secure/validate the signal being sent to ensure it is valid for the site in question (a challenge-response system with a public key sent from the mobile phone relay antenna and responding to the wi-fi network would allow the mobile to check the signal was genuine - if not, ignore the restrictions, could be a possibility but I'm not spending hours working it all out - that's their job)
C'mon though, it's just a patent at the moment - wait til there's some meat on the bones before you start rubbishing the idea.
Where do I begin?
I have often found myself behind someone engaged in telephone conversation at stop lights and department store queues. Only the price of the gadget has deterred me from purchasing a cell phone blocker; that and the fact it is not legal in the U.S. to disrupt a wireless call. Microsoft, I assume, is above the law.
I would find it a great convenience if the ringer on my phone would automatically switch to vibrate upon entering a theater - in case I forget to do it myself; but, I wouldn't put such absolute control in the hands of someone else.
If we continue to enforce social behavior in this fashion, society will not evolve. In fact, I suspect we will de-evolve.