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Apple land-grabs iThingy feature management patent

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The world’s change-rooms and fitness clubs might get that little bit more private, if Apple actually implements its latest patent, to enforce a shut-down of a phone’s camera in “a sensitive area”.

Of course, it’s just as likely that if this patent ever makes its way to a product, it could also be used by copyright-holders to forbid photos of events like sports fixtures (El Reg can imagine the IOC writing to Cupertino already), or by police who seem to think the panopticon should only work in their favour.

The Lords of the Rounded Corner suggest that policy enforcement could be decided according to which base station the phone is logged into, or on the presence of other device.

This second function probably isn’t too bad an idea, given the number of users who appear blissfully ignorant of their unsecured Bluetooth, for example.

Policies imagined by the patent include dimming and muting devices in a movie theatre (or, The Register supposes, shutting off the camera to prevent copies being made), preventing communication between devices, or forcing a “sleep mode” in a “sensitive area”.

The claims aren’t confined to a Rectangular Device with Slightly Rounded Corners: Apple also sweeps up the base station capabilities in the patent. It also covers the use of GPS to determine whether a device is in a sensitive area. ®

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