Professor shares H’wood’s vision

Device prevents cameras from capturing high-quality pictures

Hollywood may soon make a Georgia Tech professor a very rich man.

Industryites have already started to reach out to Gregory Abowd, leader of a team working on technology that could disable digital cameras within a limited radius.

Abowd started work with colleagues on the technology last year out of an interest in protecting privacy and intellectual property as digital recording technology becomes ubiquitous. It wasn’t long, however, before applications to the movie biz became obvious.

The prototype device interferes with the sensors on a video or still camera, preventing them from capturing a high-quality picture.

If it works on a large scale, the technology could help Hollywood prevent camcorder piracy in movie theaters without interfering with the image seen by moviegoers.

As reports of Abowd’s work have gotten out, he has heard from both the MPAA and studio execs.

“The MPAA is already interested in deploying this on a mass scale, while the studios are talking more about limited usage for the first few days of theatrical releases,” he says.

While Georgia Tech owns the provisional patent behind its prof’s technology, Abowd is starting a for-profit company that will have an exclusive license to resell it to customers.

Next step is proving the devices can be manufactured and deployed on a large scale. Abowd estimates that will take about six months, plus another six months to prepare it for commercialization.

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