(Photo illustration based on patent diagram.)

Google is offering its Google Glass for sale to the public for the first time today, in a limited-time promotion.

googleglassesDepending on how many people are willing to plop down $1,500 for the privilege, we could soon be seeing more of the high-tech spectacles on the streets — including the video-recording capability that has stirred up unenlightened paranoia or justifiable privacy concerns, depending on your perspective.

Don’t worry, if you fall in the latter camp, Bill Gates has got you covered.

A newly surfaced patent filing, listing the Microsoft co-founder as an inventor, proposes to equip computer and device displays with technology for detecting and responding to any cameras in the vicinity by editing or blurring the content on the screen, or alerting the user to the presence of the camera. It doesn’t refer specifically to Google Glass, but generally addresses the increase in video cameras in our society.

Here’s how it works, according to the patent application.

Intruder analysis module scans the input for viewers, and classifies them as either intruders or safe viewers. Intruder analysis module also scans the input for cameras or camera-equipped devices (e.g., SLR cameras, camera-equipped cellular phones, point-and-shoot cameras, building-mounted camera systems, etc.). Intruder analysis module may classify an object as a viewer or camera using any number of detection algorithms. For example, intruder analysis module may apply motion detection algorithms on the sensor information, and may classify any moving object as a viewer. As another example, intruder analysis module may apply shape detection algorithms that scans the sensor information for lens (e.g., circular) shapes. As another example, intruder analysis module may apply shape detection algorithms that scans the sensor information to determine whether a detected camera has a lens cap emplaced; in this case it may not be considered as an intruder. As another example, intruder analysis module may apply shape detection algorithms that scans the sensor information to determine the orientation of a detected camera.

… The processing circuit (via the intruder analysis module) analyzes the information to determine the presence of intruding camera. The processing circuit (via the edit generation module) edits or changes content on electronic media display device in response to detecting intruding camera. For example, the processing circuit may blur the contents of the display or cause an alert to appear, thereby notifying user of the intrusion. In this manner, sensitive content can be protected from being captured by unauthorized cameras. It should be understood that the application is not limited to detecting cameras attached to buildings, and that other scenarios are envisioned. For example, electronic media display device 1300 may detect another cellular phone equipped with a camera. Similar embodiments are also useful in public locations or while a user is taking public transportation, where intruding cameras are likely to be present.

It’s the second patent filing in a series, and it appears to be the result of one of the high-level invention brainstorming sessions conducted by Intellectual Ventures’ Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft chief technology officer. Gates has been a frequent participant in those sessions.

No word on when or even whether they plan to bring this surveillance-thwarting technology to market.

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  • anon

    so what if someone records your PIN and sees and records the card number, no matter WHAT that is not enough to steal cash from your account via an ATM or anywhere else! crooks need the information that’s encoded on the back, for them to get to that they need to swipe your card. these articles spread fear not facts.

    • hellracer0

      just put a mirror underneath the card slot or another camera. problem?

      • anon

        lol look on the back your CC and tell me if you can read what’s encoded on that wide black strip, no you can’t, you need a card reader for that, using camera or mirror will never work.

        • Ferris Bueller

          The black strip is outdated tech, with the US far behind other countries. The rest of the world uses an embedded chip + PIN for transactions.

          • anon

            I wasn’t even talking about other countries I’m talking about the US which still uses HICO and not chip encoded tech. google glass can’t read HICO that’s what I’m talking about… keep on topic!!!
            also not all countries uses chips yet.

          • Bork

            “Skimming” is how the bar is read. People that do this are very ahead on the technology arena as well, as ATM card skimmers were being 3D printed years ago.

          • anon

            yeah from 2003 to 2004 I made 2.5 million using an MSR206. I never had any use for card skimmers, as all the data I was getting was from hacked data servers.

  • Ferris Bueller

    Bill Gates is John Connor. I did NOT see that coming, but with hindsight it makes perfect sense. Violence doesn’t work against Skynet, so you have to use stealth and play the long game. Well done.

  • Anon

    Good idea, but last time i was at an atm i never once saw my acc, card or pin showing up on the screen.

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