A newly discovered Apple patent reveals that future iPhones could use infrared technology to provide sophisticated cameras that communicate with the objects around them. The system works by picking up infrared signals that contain encoded data and decoding them to display related information to the user or modify the operation of their device.

The patent suggests the feature could be used to disable an iPhone’s camera in a place where image capturing is illegal, or it could turn iOS devices into tour guides that enable a user to interact with objects around them…

Patently Apple, who first discovered the patent made public by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today, describes why this technology would be good for our iPhones:

A transmitter could be located adjacent to a museum exhibit and its infrared signal could include encoded data that represents information about the exhibit. In some embodiments, the infrared signal could include encoded data that represents a command. For example, the transmitter could be located in an area where photography is prohibited and the infrared signal could include encoded data that represents a command to disable recording functions.

As an alternative to disabling recording functions altogether, Patently Apple notes that infrared signals could instead add a watermark to any images or video you record.

Other functions include the opportunity for the user to interact with objects to discover more information. So when you’re walking around a museum or an art gallery, you can point your device at a certain piece and obtain additional information along with accompanying audio, video or images.

The patent suggests this feature could be user configured so that you can turn it on or off, define its sensitivity for picking up nearby signals and alert you when a signal is detected.

This sounds to me like a feature similar to that users can enjoy through augmented reality applications that allow you to point your device at landmarks or buildings and discover information. However, this seems more sophisticated in that the infrared signals read by your device can manipulate it into performing certain tasks or disabling certain features.

Is infrared technology something you’d like to see in a future iPhone, or is it just unnecessary?

  • Shahzad

    i think its old technology..if im correct infrared needs line of sight to work…

  • Sly

    So this is trying to tell how stupid apple can control us.Invading our privacy.

    • Lunatic

      How the hell do you think apple can invade our privacy with a freaking infrared? Study what it is first troll

    • Lunatic

      How the helI do you think apple can invade our privacy with a freaking infrared? Study what it is first troll

  • john Wallace

    I see it as only bad when I want to take a picture and the infrared signal would somehow disable my iPhone camera or even the entire phone. Though what about including an infrared transmitter too? Then I’ll always have my remote for all my devices without some silly add on device.

  • The whole blocking the use of cameras is a dumb idea. Because you never want to add a negative to your device. When all other phones and cameras are taking pictures of something they’re not supposed and only iPhone users are left out. I’m sure if this did happen there’d be a jailbreak tweak to disable it but the whole prevent people from using their camera is a dumb idea

    • Can you please stop trying to impersonate me in your comments and using a fake email address. I appreciate the fascination you have for me but it’s getting a bit weird now.

  • Killian

    I like the features infrared technology brings, but like you guys say, I don’t like the idea of having my camera restricted for me. However, according to the patent images, you can turn the infrared functionality off so it shouldn’t be able to restrict you.

    As Sebastien says, there will be a jailbreak tweak to disable infrared a week after it’s released anyway.