RIM patent aims to make 'spy cam' shots a thing of the past

BlackBerry handset maker Research In Motion has patented a system that would prevent people from quickly taking covert photographs by requiring a handset to be held still for a predetermined amount of time before a picture can be taken.
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

RIM has patented a new process that would stop a camera from taking photographs unless it was properly focused on the subject, thereby preventing 'spy cam'-type shots that can be the source of information leaks within a company.

The patent filing was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday.

"The camera restriction prevents a user from taking a picture of a subject if the device has not been steadily focused on the subject in question for a predetermined period of time," RIM said in the patent filing.

"In short, this process extends the normal camera-taking procedure and thus requires the camera user to take pictures in a conspicuous manner — the rationale being that a camera user would be less likely to take unauthorized pictures if such actions could be easily recognized," the company added.

While top of the range smartphone cameras currently pride themselves on being able to go from locked to taking a snap in around one second or less, the new RIM system would allow companies to set IT policies that restricted camera usage based on needing to keep it still for a pre-determined number of seconds.

There is no indication that RIM intends to use the feature in any of its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 devices, due at the end of January, but the company does now have the option of introducing it at a later date if business customers demand the extra layer of security.

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