Login or Join Now

Upload your photos, chat, win prizes and much more

Remember Me

Can't Access your Account?

New to ePHOTOzine? Join ePHOTOzine for free!

System developed to neutralise digital cameras

Join Now

Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!

55% OFF new PortraitPro 12 - use code EPHZROS414.
Category: Technology

System developed to neutralise digital cameras - Digital camera neutralising technology could halt movie piracy and clandestine photography, unless the Paparazzi resort to film of course.

Print Article Add Comment Add CommentJargon Buster: Off Jargon Buster: Off
System developed to neutralise digital cameras
Press Release:
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have completed a prototype device that can block digital-camera function in a given area. Commercial versions of the technology could be used to thwart unwanted use of video or still cameras.

The prototype device, produced by a team in the Interactive and Intelligent Computing division of the Georgia Tech College of Computing (COC), uses off-the-shelf equipment camera-mounted sensors, lighting equipment, a projector and a computerto scan for, find and neutralize digital cameras. The system works by looking for the reflectivity and shape of the image-producing sensors used in digital cameras.

Gregory Abowd, an associate professor leading the project, says the new camera-neutralizing technology shows commercial promise in two principal fields protecting limited areas against clandestine photography or stopping video copying in larger areas such as theatres.

Were at a point right now where the prototype we have developed could lead to products for markets that have a small, critical area to protect, Abowd said. Then were also looking to do additional research that could increase the protected area for one of our more interesting clients, the motion picture industry.

Abowd said the small-area product could prevent espionage photography in government buildings, industrial settings or trade shows. It could also be used in business settingsfor instance, to stop amateur photography where shopping-mall-Santa pictures are being taken.

James Clawson, a research technician on Abowds prototype team, said preventing movie copying could be a major application for camera-blocking technology.

Movie piracy is a $3 billion-a-year problem, Clawson maintains a problem said to be especially acute in Asia. If someone videotapes a movie in a theatre and then puts it up on the web that night or burns half a million copies to sell on the street then the movie industry has lost a lot of in-theatre revenue.

Moreover, movie theatres are likely to be a good setting for camera-blocking technology, said Jay Summet, a research assistant who is also working on the prototype. A cameras image sensor called a CCDis retroreflective, which means it sends light back directly to its origin rather than scattering it.

Retroreflections would probably make it relatively easy to detect and identify video cameras in a darkened theatre.

The current prototype uses visible light and two cameras to find CCDs, but a future commercial system might use invisible infrared lasers and photo-detecting transistors to scan for contraband cameras. Once such a system found a suspicious spot, it would feed information on the reflections properties to a computer for a determination.

The biggest problem is making sure we dont get false positives from, say, a large shiny earring, said Summet. We need to make our system work well enough so that it can find a dot, then test to see if its reflective, then see if its retroreflective, and then test to see if its the right shape.

Once a scanning laser and photodetector located a video camera, the system would flash a thin beam of visible white light directly at the CCD. This beam possibly a laser in a commercial version would overwhelm the target camera with light, rendering recorded video unusable. Researchers say that energy levels used to neutralize cameras would be low enough to preclude any health risks to the operator.

Still camera neutralization in small areas also shows near-term commercial promise, Abowd said. Despite ambient light levels far higher than in a theatre, still cameras at a trade show or a mall should be fairly easy to detect, he said. Thats because image sensors in most cell phones and digital cameras are placed close to the lens, making them easier to spot than the deeper-set sensors of video cameras.

Camera neutralizations potential has helped bring it under the wing of VentureLab, a Georgia Tech group that assists fledgling companies through the critical feasibility and first-funding phases. Operating under the name DominINC, Abowds company has already received a Phase 1 grant from the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) with VentureLab assistance.

Abowd said that funding availability will likely decide which technologysmall- or large-areawill be developed first. DominINC will apply soon for GRA Phase 2 money, Abowd said. Those funds would be used to aid anti-piracy product development, as would any funding coming from the film industry.

Other potential funding, from industry and elsewhere, would likely be used to develop anti-espionage small-area applications.

Stephen Fleming, Georgia Techs chief commercialization officer, said motion-picture groups are actively looking for technology to foil piracy. Movie distributors might even promote camera-neutralizing systems by refusing to send films to theatres that dont install anti-piracy systems.

There are some caveats, according to Summet. Current camera-neutralizing technology may never work against single-lens-reflex cameras, which use a folding-mirror viewing system that effectively masks its CCD except when a photo is actually being taken. Moreover, anti-digital techniques dont work on conventional film cameras because they have no image sensor.

Good computer analysis will be the heart of effective camera blocking, Summet believes.

Most of the major work that we have left involves algorithmic development, he said. False positives will eliminated by making a system with fast, efficient computing.

Also involved in the camera-neutralizing project are Shwetak Patel, a College of Computing PhD student; Khai Truong, a former Georgia Tech PhD student who is now at the University of Toronto, and Kent Lyons, a College of Computing post-doctoral student. A paper on this technology was published and presented at the Ubicomp 2005 conference in Tokyo, Japan, last September.

Explore More

First User-Controlled Camera Bot To Showcase Samsung Galaxy NX

Cheil UK Creates Camera-Bot For Samsung

Cheil UK has created a web-user controlled camera bot to sho...

Polaroid Socialmatic Camera Coming This Year

Polaroid Socialmatic Camera Becomes A Reality

The Polaroid Socialmatic camera is set to debut in Autumn 20...

Lytro Gets $40 Million Boost

Lytro Raises $40 Million In Funding

Lytro has announced a $40 million round of financing, and is...

Join ePHOTOzine and remove these ads.


BOB S  112622 forum posts
19 Jun 2006 - 12:00 PM

Now where did I put that Super 8.........


Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links 
19 Jun 2006 - 12:58 PM

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

deviant  103024 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
19 Jun 2006 - 12:58 PM

Sometimes I hate the world we live in and this is one of those times.

alfpics  12356 forum posts England
19 Jun 2006 - 6:46 PM

"The system works by looking for the reflectivity and shape of the image-producing sensors used in digital cameras."

A few weeks ago there was news about non-reflective glass. Presumably one can now use that in front of the CCD etc to stop this device picking it up!

perrism  9
20 Jun 2006 - 7:30 AM

If I had the intelligence to get a PhD - and I don't - I'd like to think I'd put it to better use than developing a camera detector that can detect neither film cameras nor digital SLRs, and which can otherwise be circumvented by bribing the cinema projectionist.

20 Jun 2006 - 9:04 AM

Coming up next, a device that neutralises the alcohol in your lager...


20 Jun 2006 - 4:51 PM

Shame they don't pit the effort into blocking mobile phones in cinemas, restaurants etc. People could just make do with a pay phone like the good not so old days.

karl Site Moderator 10572 forum posts United Kingdom
21 Jun 2006 - 10:12 AM

You can block mobiles already, just that devices to do such are still classed as illegal in the UK AFAIK.

- Original Poster Comments
- Your Posts

Add a Comment

You must be a member to leave a comment

Remember me:
Un-tick this box if you want to login each time you visit.