Sometimes reality is a little too much like fiction. That is what this new patent filed by IBM, which wants to “filter” our environment through augmented reality, makes us think. It’s hard to believe that this is a good idea from the computer giant.
IBM has patented a technology that Black Mirror has warned of
That is a particularly cruel comparison for IBM. A patent, which has just been accepted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is identical to a technology seen in the “Arkangel” episode of the Black Mirror series.
IBM patent AR augmented reality
On December 29, Netflix put online the 4th season of Black Mirror. In the second episode called “Arkangel,” Charlie Brooker imagines a technology that is implemented to children allowing parents to block content considered disturbing to younger children. A technique that of course meets its limits as always with the famous science fiction series, Black Mirror.
IBM has also just granted an augmented reality patent for the very similar technology, allowing it to capture or stream recorded video. The patent would identify the content very quickly and pixelize it by adding a second image over it. The technology used would be Visual Light Communication which can transfer data at 10 Mbit/s. In other words, this V2.0 parental control would be particularly responsive and effective. The technology is designed to be used in virtual reality as well as augmented reality, and IBM refers to the Hololens as a helmet that can be equipped with it. Beyond traditional parental censorship, it is also easy to imagine this technology used to protect copyrights or geolocalized content. In short, not really good news in any context.
The IBM patent filed before the broadcast of the episode
Automatically, one could imagine that it was after seeing the episode that IBM was inspired to file this patent. It’s not… The patent. If it was just published a few days ago, was submitted on September 27, 2016. In other words, the idea has been around for a while at IBM. For the shot, we would prefer that they take inspiration from Ready Player One by proposing a gigantic treasure hunt. The fact that the most obvious reference is Black Mirror is not necessarily good news when it comes to the vision that some companies have of augmented or virtual reality.
IBM patent AR Black Mirror
From a legal point of view, of course, this patent could only be intended to block the use of such technology by competition. As always, there is no guarantee that the filing of a patent will be followed by a technological application. But the synergy between the two universes is somewhat frightening.