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Microsoft Patents

Microsoft Seeks Patent On 'Quieting Mobile Devices' 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the seen-and-not-heard dept.
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on a pending Microsoft patent that proposes to give parents a centralized dashboard on their phones for remotely monitoring and setting restrictions on other family members' mobile devices. The newly-published patent application for Automatically Quieting Mobile Devices explains how parents could use the dashboard to shut down family members' devices during certain time periods, at designated locations, during specified events, and in designated quiet zones. From the patent: 'Aspects that might be disabled include any type of interactive functions and/or features of a device (except, in some examples, initiating emergency telephone calls or emergency text messages and displaying the current time/date or information related to the quiet time may still be permitted), playing games, communicating (via phone, VOIP applications, text messaging, instant messaging, and/or email), using other applications (e.g., browsers, messaging applications, social networking applications, or consuming certain content (e.g., digital media content).' Microsoft also proposes equipping parents' phones with 'biometric detection' to thwart kids who try to circumvent 'Big Mother'."
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Microsoft Seeks Patent On 'Quieting Mobile Devices'

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  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:30PM (#44741123)
    I'm sure when this tech hits the market, the government will get to play the role of Big Mother too, and all of those features are pretty scary in that context.
    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      No worries, it'll never hit the market, the summary says MS is seeking a patent for it. Of course, the government might realize granting a patent means preventing this tech from becoming available, but probably too late. ;-)

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:36PM (#44741173)
    Their mobile phone business is already quiet as a whisper.
  • Instafail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:37PM (#44741179)

    Clearly, the engineer who cooked this up has never had kids. Look, they're like prisoners -- they're bored, and have nothing better to do than spend hours trying to do what they're told they can't do, because doing what you can't do is really, really fun.

    You could give it nine biometric sensors, make it out of solid neutronium, and mandate 40 character randomly generated passwords and an attachment to attach to your dick and take a urine sample... and kids will still giggle, smile, and then proceed to hack it, then destroy it, then flush the pieces down the toilet, then claim they don't know what happened.

    Because that's how children roll.

    There is no technology that can be a substitute for good parenting -- namely, you say "don't touch this" and if they touch it... you ground their bitch ass. Problem solved. And coincidentally... parental involvement is the only thing that DOES solve the problem.

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:53PM (#44741283) Homepage Journal
      No doubt, knowing Microsoft, it will be the kids locking their parents out, not the other way 'round.
    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      Destroy it, heck no! Think of the possibilities? Teen girls could prevent their boyfriend(s) from texting anyone other than them. Enemies can disable one's fav game or pr0n access. In the midst of a test, mysteriously cheat notes aren't accessible. The kids who hack this stand to make lotsa' cash, or gain sexual favors, or whatever kids want nowadays...Adderall.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      It's rather sad how people always blame the parents for not controlling their kids, and then those same people bitch and moan whenever someone tries to introduce a technology to help parents control their kids.

      Those people always insist that technology is no substitute for good parenting, as if that's some sort of sage revelation. But it's not. It's a distraction. It's changing the subject. No one is saying technology like this replaces good parenting. It's not designed to replace good parenting. It's

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        It's rather sad how people always blame the parents for not controlling their kids, and then those same people bitch and moan whenever someone tries to introduce a technology to help parents control their kids.

        Those people always insist that technology is no substitute for good parenting, as if that's some sort of sage revelation. But it's not. It's a distraction. It's changing the subject. No one is saying technology like this replaces good parenting. It's not designed to replace good parenting. It's desig

        • by Kijori (897770)

          You could just as easily say

          Technology has nothing to do with farming. Because smartphones didn't exist in huge quantities 10 years ago. Internet was new and novel 15 years ago. VIdeo games at least in popularity is barely 35 years old, and home computing is barely over 40.

          And we've had agriculture and have been farming for thousands of years. The industrial age (or really what we'd call modern life) is close to 150 years old. And the electronic distractions are barely a third of that.

          Technology has changed things, even if you wish it hadn't and even if you don't want it to. Good parenting means doing what is needed to raise your child to be as happy and healthy as they can be and giving them as many opportunities as you can, and that means embracing all the means at your disposal, not harking back to some golden era of lego and innocent games of cowboys and indians. If a specific piece of technology can help a good parent will use it.

          Computers and televisions

  • um... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Did Microsoft just patent "parental controls"?

    I'm pretty sure the locked-down Android tablets being marketed for kids does this already.

    • by grahamwest (30174)

      Parental controls triggered by location as well as time, so basically yes. However, this is only a patent application and can thus be denied or challenged while under evaluation.

  • Parenting much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Acapulco (1289274) on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:41PM (#44741209)

    Wow, it can do ALL those things?
    I guess parenting is overrated!

    Joking aside, it's worrysome how more and more, even discussed in Slashdot ad nauseaum, there are people developing parenting-avoiding tools.

    Every time I see someone asking for some software to monitor their kids and avoid them going to unwanted internet pages I'm amused how my parents monitored me when I was young.

    The answer? Put the computer in the living room where every one walking about the house could take a peek at the monitor. Up until maybe 13-14 years old it was this way. Later they allowed me to have it in my room after they had some "certainty" that I knew how to surf safely. Sure, I watched porn and even once in a while things that my parent probably wouldn't have approved of (gore and stuff like that), but by that point I had a pretty firm grasp of what I was "allowed" to do. Read: Allowed as in I trusted my parents to do what it was good for me.

    If they prefered I stayed away from certain pages I would most certainly stay away, maybe taking a quick peek but in general nothing to worry about.

    I mean, if you are not going to be (and I hope most people won't) glued to the side of your child so you can monitor it 24/7, why would anyone expect some software to actually do that? I believe that children behave for the most part, according to how the parenting went. So if your kid can't stay away from the smartphone in important events, the the issue is not with the techology (as usual) but with the way those parents raised their children.

    After so many patents and technology products and ideas going in this direction, I wonder if some sci-fi writer is ever going to write some stories about how the future of humanity will be determined by how parents *configured* their kid's robo-nannies and even sue the robo-nanny maker because their child grew up spoiled, even when they bought the enhanced DLC for super-behaved children!

    • by xt (225814)

      A sci-fi writer did write a short story about teddy bear robo-nannies shaping up future adults, back in 1965. Take a look at Harry Harrison's I always do what teddy says.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:45PM (#44741225)

    Too many parents refuse to parent and let the media do their work for them. For those parents that have raised snowflakes this would be the perfect passive aggressive way to handle things.

    Sorry snowflake, the phone says you can't send text messages at dinner time, don't be upset with me!

    • I Don't think this is insightful. Utilizing parental controls is not letting "the media" do their work for them. It is giving parents an option of tools so that they can effectively do their work. Technology is suppose to make our lives easier, no? So why should technology not make different aspects of parenting easier too?
  • Good plan... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:46PM (#44741233) Journal

    Am I being overly concerned about building an access channel into the phone designed to yield aspects of phone control to another party. I can't imagine that hackers and cracker worldwide wouldn't hit this new feature like a schist-storm looking to use it as a pry tool to access control of people's Win-Phones. I guess MS is safe as long as the number of users is too small to justify the interest of the hackers.

  • by Gibgezr (2025238) on Monday September 02, 2013 @05:47PM (#44741239)

    As a parent, I have no need of this.
    As a teacher, this would be useful.

    • Its an easy way for parents to ensure that their student isn't using their phones during class. Something a parent should care about.
  • a recent Apple patent request for something like this for law enforcement to have the ability to shut down cell phone functions in an area. I guess saying it is to protect children makes it look a bit less Orwellian than saying it is for law enforcement.
  • So just factory reset via bootloader download mode which will remove all attached accounts and wipe the phone. Go reinstall all your stuff...

    This is about as useful at preventing use of a device as setting a phone lock PIN/pattern/password. A better way of doing this would be to have the network operator disable outgoing calls/data/SMS/MMS during certain times, as another SIM would be needed (on GSM) or a carrier reprogram (on SIM-less CDMA). Of course this would not stop use of local applications or WiFi/B

    • For as much as people claim that younger generations are "tech savvy", there are not. Yeah, they under stand how to "use" computers and tech devices. But a vast majority don't understand how to control tech devices. It's like driving a car. Most everyone knows how to. But don't understand the slightest about what goes on under the hood. For a handful of actually tech savvy people, they will find a work around. For the majority, they will either find a tech savvy friend or be SOL.
      • by Aranykai (1053846)

        Bullshit. I was 15 when XP hit the market and my Father decided he would give us(me and my sisters) all accounts, but only his would be administrator. Well, it didn't take us long to figure out we could just create a password reset floppy and get into his account any time we wanted.

        As well, we had MSN dialup then, and we weren't allowed to get online without permission. Again, didn't take long to realize we could just hit 'forgot password' at the login screen and it would dialup a connection so you could do

        • Yeah, and you're on slashdot. I'm willing to bet that you are not the "Average person". OR do you claim to not no more about how computers/tech works then the average teenager?
          • Yeah, and you're on slashdot. I'm willing to bet that you are not the "Average person". OR do you claim to not no more about how computers/tech works then the average teenager?

            I think it depends on whether or not your teenager discovers that google knows the answers to their problems...
            Google search "bypass smartphone lock"
            and they don't need to be tech savvy to realize it is possible and find a video that walks them through it, or get a friend to help.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Monday September 02, 2013 @06:08PM (#44741365) Journal

    ...and this isn't an anti-Microsoft rant as all public companies and most private ones are guilty of this as well.

    Step 1: Take common ingredients used in hundreds if not thousands of other applications and/or software
    Step 2: Mix them together in a way that is any more innovative than any new software package is by the mere fact of being new
    Step 3: Patent it

    WTF?

    Why can't restaurants patent mixing ingredients together then? It's the same crap, lol...

    Chef - "Oh, I added a cherry on top of the Bananas Foster - surely that's patent worthy, right?"
    Patent Lawyer - "Oh, HELL YES, and I'm not just saying that because my entire livelihood and those of my useless brethren is riding on the answer... Go meshugah..."

    • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday September 02, 2013 @06:27PM (#44741483)

      They're only "seeking" this patent. Sure, it might be granted eventually but that's when the complaints should start.

      The problem is with corporations treating patenting of basic features as a primary buisness goal. There's basically an ongoing patent war amongst all the companies of a certain size. Basically you need to acquire a certain amount of patents, keep acquiring more, then deal with your competitors to exchange patents in exchange for no lawsuits while ganging up on smaller companies attempting to enter the space. Ultimately the validity of patents is of little use in the war because the goal is to make it too expensive to litigate rather than to innovate.

      Also, everyone should learn to read patents and patent applications. These are very often misinterpreted. I'm sure there's nothing whatsoever here that is patenting "quieting mobile devices" but is instead patenting a specific way of doing this. The boilerplate of supporting claims are not the main claims of patents.

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        One of the worst things are the patent lawyers themselves - I've dealt with patent lawyers in several sizes of organizations: SIEMENS, Microsoft, a 50 person company, and a 12 person company.

        They were all idiots except for the ones from Microsoft, and they (the Microsoftie ones) were intentionally blase about the process. When I would explain to them that they were misinterpreted what I did they would just say "it doesn't really matter, it's provisional, we can straighten it out later, yadda^3..."

        The SIEM

      • by Imagix (695350)

        They're only "seeking" this patent. Sure, it might be granted eventually but that's when the complaints should start.

        I disagree. The complaints should start now. This is not a company attempting to protect vast R&D investment into some innovative thing. This is a company attempting to build more patents to use in a patent war. They are attempting to game the system. I get _why_ they're attempting to game the system, but it's still wrong.

    • It's gotten to the point where not only are patents being sought and awarded even where ideas are obvious to a person skilled in the discipline; patents are being sought and awared even when they are obvious to a "man on the street" who spends more than three seconds thinking about a problem.
  • Not new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Monday September 02, 2013 @06:11PM (#44741383)

    But how can this be patentable?

    The idea of having an Administrator set group policy, and being able to monitor both that policy and the use of devices on the network is nothing new.

    • Ahh but they added "on a mobile device". It's the newest version of "on the internet".
    • But this is:
      "The idea of having an Administrator set group policy, and being able to monitor both that policy and the use of mobile devices on the network is nothing new."

      Can't you see the difference!?

    • I thought obvious extension of existing technology is not patentable. If you can remotely administer PC's or other computer equipment, smart phones are no different. They are just remote computers. I hope someone can challenge this patent on a basis at least something like this.
  • Microsoft is patenting a hammer?

  • Was the quietest mobile device in history. I've never heard one being used.

  • Kindles already have a time-limit feature for the kiddie accounts.

  • Might as well get them trained to submit to totalitarian regimes early.

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