Using Bluetooth To Disable Camera Phones

By | September 9, 2004

Here’s a possible solution to the problem of camera-phone voyeurs.

Lee Choo Kiong of Singapore’s AsiaOne reports (thanks ITJournoAsia, subscription required) on three Temasek Polytechnic students who have come up with software that will disable camera functions on some cellphones, using Bluetooth.

What I think happens is that software is loaded into the cellphone (presumably with the user’s permission and knowledge) and then once the cellphone comes into range of the Bluetooth device, its camera functions are disabled. Other functions of the phone would work normally, the report says. The report quotes one of the inventors, Lu Qian, 21, as saying: “This technology is useful in places where confidentiality is paramount, such as on military grounds, where visitors are not allowed to bring in their cellphones.”

Obviously this is limited by the fact that you can only load the software with the user’s cooperation. And the software has so far been successfully tested only with Nokia 6600 and 7210 Bluetooth phones. It failed with a Nokia 7650 model, the report says.

On the other hand, as the inventors say, this might be useful in places where, instead of banning all phones, owners could submit their phone for modification and then be allowed to keep it, the camera disabled. That would make sense in military installations, factories, gyms or other places of sensitivity or virtue.

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