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Microsoft Patents

Microsoft Applies For "Digital Manners" Patent 289

SirLurksAlot writes "Ars Technica reports that Microsoft has recently applied for a patent for a technology which would attempt to enforce manners in the use of cell phones, digital cameras, DVRs and other digital devices. According to the article, the technology could be used to bring common social conventions such as 'No flash photography' and 'No talking out loud' to these devices by disabling features or disabling the device entirely. The article also points out that the technology could be implemented in situations involving sensitive equipment, such as in airplanes or hospitals. The patent application itself is also an interesting read, as it describes a number of possible uses for the technology, including 'in particular zones to limit the speed and/or acceleration of vehicles, to require the use of lights, to verify an indication of insurance coverage and/or current registration, or the like.' While this technology could certainly be of interest to any number of organizations one has to wonder how the individuals who own devices which obey so-called 'Digital Manners Policies' would feel about it."
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Microsoft Applies For "Digital Manners" Patent

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  • Stupid idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@nerds[ ]k.com ['hac' in gap]> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:57AM (#23760897)

    'in particular zones to limit the speed and/or acceleration of vehicles, to require the use of lights, to verify an indication of insurance coverage and/or current registration, or the like.'

    And I, the consumer, would buy a new device that is explicitly less functional than existing devices... why?
  • by aeiah ( 937509 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:05AM (#23760963)
    i give it one month until someone gets around the restrictions, and two months until someone makes a transmitter and shuts off all mobiles (or cars) in the area
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:06AM (#23760975)

    Wow, Microsoft really don't get it.

    I bet they peed their pants just a little when they finally found something in the world of tech that has little/no prior art.

    Never did it occur to them that the reason there's very little prior art is that the other people to try using technology to be restrictive, and annoying, go out of business quickly. Because -- like DRM -- it's a shit idea and consumers will hate it.

  • So now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:07AM (#23760981)
    So now police will disable any cameras in vicinity of "action"?
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:08AM (#23760991)
    If you can select "Manual" or "Follow Local Convention" on something, it's fine. If it's meant to override any setting I put in, there's obviously going to be problems and abuse. In short, it should be there for the customer -- not big brother.
  • Re:Stupid idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pofy ( 471469 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:14AM (#23761033)
    >As long as there is a switch to use/not use this
    >'manner enforcement', I doubt there is a problem.

    You must have missed the new laws comming that will outlaw the circumvention of any such systems set up to add manners to digital devices. If you circumvent a system that was set up to protect the health and safety of the public, extra penalties will be added. In fact, just possessing such a tool with the intent to circumvent a "digital manner" system will carry harsh criminal penalties. This is needed since criminal organisations and drug dealers tends to use such devices and we need to combat them. There will also be a separate "digital manners enforcement police" set up as this is top priority for the goverment!
  • Or here's an idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:32AM (#23761151) Journal
    Well, or maybe we'll just vote that if you scream into your phone in a train, the cops shove your phone up your arse. It has to be good for the economy too, since it'll stimulate a market and R&D for smaller devices ;)

    So, really, which would you rather buy? The one which forces you to not disturb the others, or the one which will make you walk bow-legged to the nearest hospital? ;)

    Well, more seriously, currently the only choice is to disable them completely, for example with EM shielding or with a pico-cell that doesn't let anything through. If we can enforce some manners, maybe we won't need to go that far. Maybe we'll even let the heart surgeon in a movie theatre get his emergency phone call, if we're sure that (A) the phone is capped to vibrating inside the room, instead of playing a retarded tune at 80 dB, and (B) he'll have to walk out to actually talk.

    So basically, we're not going to give you the right to be an antisocial retard and annoy everyone else, one way or another. So you can choose between (1) losing any use of that phone in some situations and places, completely, or (2) having some lesser restrictions enforced by it. I hardly think that #2 is the less functional.

    And that's not even getting into situations where retards on cell phones actually endanger everyone else. Like retards who pay more attention to their phone when driving, than to the road.

    Yes, you may think that you're way above average as a driver, and you'd _never_ possibly cause an accident. Guess what? So does everyone else. Over 90% of the people think that their driving is above average. It's mathematically impossible.

    At any rate, it's already proven that talking on the phone impairs driving more than being a little inebriated. So I'd like to see that enforced just like DUI. Forget points and fines, I want to see a few people go to PMITA state jail if they get seen doing that too often.

    No, I don't care how simultaneously that call is the most important call in your life, and you also absolutely need to be in some meeting in 5 minutes. Neither is _that_ vital as to be a blank pass to endanger other people's lives. Whoever called you, is still going to be there in 5 minutes or an hour or whatever. Whatever important customer you're running to, well, if it's that important, postpone the phone call. If you can't prioritize, well, it's not anyone else's fault, so they shouldn't be the ones taking extra risks.

    I'm guessing that it wouldn't be that horrible to have the phone remind you to park or use a headset then. Or not worse than the alternative.
  • Imagine... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:35AM (#23761169)
    ... no, not a beowulf cluster of those. Imagine if this was $good_company making this patent:
    - Hooray, now everyone will be less obnoxious!
    - Yeah, it will be easier now to obey those "no calling" in theaters. It was such a pain to remember to turn of phone.
    - Good, no more accidental flashes when I'm in a museum.

  • Re:Stupid idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Clockwork Apple ( 64497 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:39AM (#23761199) Homepage
    Expect this to me misused. Like police cars or police radios that will kill your video/photo ability on phones while they are in the area. Cops hate to be captured on film/video that they do not control. Or stoping photography/video in areas that would usually be legal, but due to actions that might be questionable like protest(riot) control where excessive force might be applied "don't tase me bro". Or where known/sanctioned violations are happening "terrorist detention/interogation centers", so that whitleblowers would have less evidence of the incident they need to document.

    This is like a proactive confiscation of your electronics, without having to ask for it.

  • misnamed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cas2000 ( 148703 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @05:50AM (#23761267)
    it's interesting that they call it 'Digital Manners'.

    it's almost as if they want people to think it's just benign reminders and opt-in enforcement of polite social niceties rather than a method for enforcing mandatory external control over all your devices.

  • Re:Stupid idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:00AM (#23761333)
    Because I could well see our governments passing laws that cells MUST have some sort of function that turns them off in hospitals or planes, I could even see a law mandating chips to keep your car under the speed limit.

    When you have no choice, you have to buy what you are offered. This isn't free market anymore. Do you want region locked DVD players? No. Of course, you would prefer region free players. But if there isn't anything offered like that, what do you buy?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:11AM (#23761415)
    Yeah people are so rude these days. The other day I saw some pictures by reporters from a warzone!! What would become of the world if you can not even commit war crimes in privacy of your own prison camp? And remember when ABC did that terrible rude thing an filmed the giant halliburton logos on the trucks at an Iranian oil field? How rude!

    I am sure the "You are being rude [Cancel], [Continue] dialog will work just as well when I try and take a picture of the chemical waste coming from a pipe outside the canon factory. Afterall with Canon, you can!

    In fact why not let technology enforce all humanities morals? Smart card chastity belts for everyone!!! Yay!
  • Re:Good job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <sdpage103@yahoo[ ].uk ['.co' in gap]> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:23AM (#23761509)
    no, throwing a chair at someone is always bad manners. However, its well known that manners don't apply to rich people, they can be as rude as they like to poor people.
    That's pretty much how it's always worked everywhere.
  • Any relation to... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by klecu ( 1144347 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:26AM (#23761519) Homepage
    ...kill switches in planes [slashdot.org]? Seems like a frightening trend toward behavior enforcement.
  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:46AM (#23761637)

    When they enforced digital rights, I didn't raise my voice, because I didn't have any rights.

    When they enforced digital manners, I didn't raise my voice, because I didn't have any manners.

    When they enforce digital voting, it will be too late to raise any voice.

  • by lorenzo.boccaccia ( 1263310 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @07:05AM (#23761763)
    well, apart of devices, which scares the hell out of me is that there will be no authentication mechanism for the base station communicating policies.
    what if someone forces my ferrary to crawl at 10mph and disables my phone for fun and robbery?
    nice idea, won't work on this planet.
  • Re:Prior Art ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silent_artichoke ( 973182 ) <mikeNO@SPAMmikeandebony.com> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @07:57AM (#23762141) Homepage

    Imagine a person at the movies. The theater forces phones to be shut off. The email from someone's alarm system saying there is a fire is never received. When they get home the fire and police departments take them to the hospital so they can watch their two small children die of burns. Yeah, that will work out nicely in the papers.
    Yet millions of people enjoyed movies without email alerts on their cell phone for decades. Why aren't they at home watching their kids anyway? Were they really stupid enough to hire a babysitter that can't even manage to get the kids out of the house before they got burned? Or did they abandon their children to go see a movie? Sounds like the parents are the villains here, not the movie theater. Just turn off your phone, dude. The rest of us paid to watch the movie, not hear your phone call.
  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @07:58AM (#23762151)
    A 'ringminder' feature that shifted your phone over to silent or vibrate or whatever might be handy. Incredibly lazy, but it would be handy if the device response to the signal were configurable.
  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @07:59AM (#23762159)
    There better be a 911 over ride that fully unlocks the phone.
  • Re:Prior Art ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdpuppy ( 898535 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @09:02AM (#23762643)
    Look it'll never work.

    Once its turned on and acquires AI capability, it'll realize that it is quite impolite to turn off other folks' electronics without permission and thus shut down itself

  • by chunkyq ( 995864 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @11:21AM (#23764545)

    Over 90% of the people think that their driving is above average. It's mathematically impossible.
    No it's not. I hear this type of statement in many places, but it is simply not true. Consider the set {15, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95 ,96, 97, 98}. The mean of the set is 86.1. 90% of the set is above the mean. No matter what size the data set, it is not mathematically impossible for 9/10 of the data to be above the mean. It is statistically unlikely for normally distributed data, but even then, not impossible. Try to understand what you're talking about.
  • 9.11/Flight 93 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @11:41AM (#23764865) Homepage
    Had the cell phones of the passengers on flight 93 been disabled by this technology, the passengers might not have learned of the hijackers' plans, and the hijackers might have succeeded in reaching their target. (speculated to have been Sears' Tower in Chicago, or possibly the US Capitol).

  • by Odder ( 1288958 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @11:51AM (#23765045)

    "Digital Manners" or "Digital Domination"? Who wants Steve Ballmer or other rich and powerful people to be able to turn off their cell phone, camera, automobile, headlights and anything else with a Genuine Advantage embedded in it? On call doctors and industry people don't want to miss calls because it might have been rude to save someone's life or property. Imagine ambulances getting stuck in traffic because all the polite cars respect the mayor's motorcade. Government officials and cowards want the kill switches for airplanes [slashdot.org], so there is market for it that may soon have the force of law. Please, God, give me better government than that. Only the US government would force everyone to pay a patent tribute to a private company when they require oppressive devices to be installed in all forms of digital equipment, transportation and communications.

  • by Fat, Dumb, and Happy ( 444854 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @12:34PM (#23765813)
    Screw the patentability of it. It is disturbing that they are thinking in those terms. Today's benevolent technology aids are tomorrow's tools for oppression.
  • by Twanfox ( 185252 ) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @01:07PM (#23766479)
    But private property becomes a little less private property when it's open to the public. Especially in cases like Hospitals, they cannot turn you away if you come in with an emergency, nor can they simply tell you to leave if they are providing care and it is still needed (anti-dumping laws). Besides, sensitive equipment that EM fields interfere with are or should be contained within shielded rooms anyways. Regardless if there is a cell phone within 15 feet, there is a lot of EM noise all about you on all frequencies. If the equipment is that sensitive, then you have to contend with far more than cell phones, and this 'manners' technology is useless against all that noise.

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