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Beer Idle Technology

Picture Blocking Beer Cooler Keeps Your Face Out of Embarrassing Photos 200

cylonlover writes "It may sound like something dreamed up by a cheesy men's magazine as a joke, but apparently this is a real thing that actually exists. Ostensibly, the Norte Photoblocker is a functional beer cooler surrounded by four sensors that can detect the flashes from cameras or cell phones. If a flash goes off in the direction of the Photoblocker, it fires its own flash to flood the resulting photos with bright white and obscure anyone nearby. Now you can go about your usual business of cheating on your spouse, being an idiot around your boss, or drunkenly harassing fellow party-goers without worrying that some wildly irresponsible person will tag you in a photo and posts it online."
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Picture Blocking Beer Cooler Keeps Your Face Out of Embarrassing Photos

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  • by igreaterthanu ( 1942456 ) * on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:00PM (#38378018)
    Because there is no way to take a photo without a flash.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure if you've ever actually been to a bar or real party (read: rager) but most of those environments are dark enough that without flash, your pictures are nearly useless when attempting to identify people.

      • by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:35PM (#38378432) Homepage

        I'm not sure if you've ever actually been to a bar or real party (read: rager) but most of those environments are dark enough that without flash, your pictures are nearly useless when attempting to identify people.

        Not so for me. I use a Nikon D700 camera with a 85mm f/1.4 lens and need no flash to shoot in near-darkness. I have many images to back up that statement.

        • Ya, we arent inviting you OR your spycam to the party, thanks.

        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:01PM (#38379248)

          Awesome, now we just need every 15 year old girl to pull $5k worth of camera equipment from her purse to take a semi blurry snap that ends up on facebook.

          Let's face it. YOU are not a typical photographer.

          Also lets face it if you used an 85mm f/1.4 in any semi decent bar on a friday night there'll be about 20 teenagers filling in the gap between you and the subject you're trying to photograph :-P

          • in any semi decent bar on a friday night there'll be about 20 teenagers filling

            Not in the US! It'd be a mix of bar flies, trannies, and hot coeds drinking for free by using the power of suggestion on lonely guys looking to score. But not teenagers, no sir chief!

        • You'd carry your DSLR out with you to a "rager" or bar?

        • The D700 still has an autofocus assist light... busted!
        • And no one gives a shit.

          Given the type of photographer being targeted here uses the flash to take photos of fireworks.

        • I'm not sure if you've ever actually been to a bar or real party (read: rager) but most of those environments are dark enough that without flash, your pictures are nearly useless when attempting to identify people.

          Not so for me. I use a Nikon D700 camera with a 85mm f/1.4 lens and need no flash to shoot in near-darkness. I have many images to back up that statement.

          Then they'll have to put a warning on it that says "not for use with MasterOfGoingFaster's Nikon D700 camera with a 85mm f/1.4 lens. He has images to back up that statement."

        • I guess the point of the beer cooler is that it will cause most -casually taken- pictures to fail, not necessarily all pictures.

          Because I need guaranteed anonymity I always wear a baklava at parties. Or should that have been a balaklava - no wonder it didn't work.

      • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:36PM (#38378450)

        Not always.
        Some modern cell phones have fantastic low light capability simply because they know that LED Camera flashes are so weak.

        But you can counter the good low light cameras with an LED hat: []

        • by mysidia ( 191772 ) *

          I'm thinking.... put a polarizing filter on the camera, and a cover/filter on its flash. Use a flash of a specific wavelength and filter everything else out from reaching your camera.

        • Interesting link, thanks.

          Are there other ways to prevent photos from being taken, or at least make it harder? How about clothes that have interference lines or strong color contrasts, would that at least mess with picture quality?

        • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

          That's what I thought this was going to be... a cooler with IR floodlights to basically disable any digital photography in the area. Seems like that would be way more effective.

        • According to the mythbusters glass is quite reflective to most IR frequencies. The hat may be foiled by DSLR's and phones with Carl Zeis lenses. Only one glass lens should do.
          Season 2006 episode 16 "Crimes and Myth-Demeanors 2" according to Wikipedia (they were trying to beat an infra-red motion detector. They tested different methods by applying it to Tory and putting him in fron of an IR camera. Someone with a pane of glass walked in between them and they could see a perfect reflection of the cameraman
        • Or a laser beacon. More commonly used as safety kit on the sea, it continuously beams a near IR laser 360 degrees around the vertical, and about 30 degrees above and below the horizontal. Stick one on a hat and you should be fairly invisible.
      • by rev0lt ( 1950662 )
        I've done concert photography with an f/3.5 lens and 1600 ISO without much issue. Many modern compact cameras also shoot in the infrared range, so you can actually see people without any visible light. Sony even advertised this feature in some models.
        • are you an official photographer? do you go to shows where they let you use good equipment or at least don't try too hard to stop you?
          I don't have luck taking photos at concerts unless I'm standing real close.
          if it's not way-too-dark, glare from stage lights can mess up the shot.

          • Re:concert photos (Score:5, Informative)

            by rev0lt ( 1950662 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:24PM (#38379744)
            My wife is a professional photographer and consultant, I sometimes use her equipment to take some shots. But I can give you some hints based on what I know:

            You will need a DSLR camera. Sometimes you can take good shots with a compact camera, sometimes you can't. Professional-looking equipment is also part of the show, so people will bother you less if you look like a professional.
            You usually won't be able to make good close-ups from far away without a tripod (and you probably won't get inside with a tripod), so you'll need to be close to the stage. Work with your camera in manual mode or speed priority, use a lens with a good aperture (be aware that below f/1.8 many not-so outrageusly expensive lenses may suffer from severe chromatic aberrations), use a sensible ISO value for the lens aperture and the kind of venue, and be aware that you probably won't take good pictures using the camera on your hands with speeds below 1/20s. If many variables confuse you, you may try a fixed aperture lens - you can probably find something like f1.8/50mm cheap, that will allow you to do good close-ups. As I said, I've used a common 18-55mm/3.5-5.6 with good results, but with a f/1.8 lens you'll be able to take dark photos and capture all the essence of the moment.

            Some (good) photographers use speelites (those flashes you put on top of your camera) for floodfilling. You point your flash to the ceiling, and on a minimal setting, so it will "light up" the scene or the background without causing too much damage. Many use filters to scatter the flashlight and/or a small reflector to minimize impact on the public. Some (bad) photographers just think they need it, and spend all the time they have ruining other people's photos with light contamination.
            One final note regarding equipment - live concerts are terrible for cameras, be aware that you may have to send your machine and lenses to be cleaned every year or so. The cigarrete smoke and from special effects machines will slowly make your machine dirty.

            Now the good stuff - how to get in & get away with it: Get a professional-looking DSLR! If it is a local venue, you can contact the organization previously and ask for permission to take pictures, They usually allow it if you give them a copy of the resulting pictures. Many times you can score a free ticket if you already have portfolio. If the organization doesn't respond you, sometimes contacting the band directly works, but don't expect a free ticket. If nothing works, park near the venue and try to go in with the camera, they probably won't stop you if you look like a "photographer".
            With smaller bands, they won't care if your photographing or not, specially if not using a flash at all. In bigger venues, expect to have a limited time to take pictures (usually the 2 first songs). I've actually seen concerts where the band stopped the concert until everyone stopped flashing their eyes.
            Authorization from the organizers usually will allow you to go to the "special zone" between the stage and the public, but not much more. Every other situation may or may not give you access to that, so ask politely to whoever is doing security there.

            Don't take my experience as a gospel (I'm from an european country, it may be different where you live), specially because my experience is mainly extreme metal concerts. Last advice - the mosh pit isn't the place to carry expensive equipment, so be careful if you cross it.
      • are the videos useless too? like the low-light security cameras all over the bars that low paid security workers sell to the press?
        • I think video cameras would work fine. The summary states that the cooler "flash" only fires when it senses a camera flash. Those video cameras don't use a flash so I don't think they would set off the cooler. The article might say something entirely different, but I didn't read it. This is /. after all.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Bullshit, I take pictures in Felbers with my phone all the time. It has no flash, and the pictures come out as good as any other indoor picture.

    • ...over the heads of some commenters.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:09PM (#38378786) Homepage Journal

      I guess video cameras don't exist either.

    • by rev0lt ( 1950662 )
      And it's not obvious how would it work with fill lighting (where you use the flash as a secundary scene light source), or multiple hi-speed sequence shots with a professional speedlite.
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      In a dark bar, there isn't.

    • I hate flash photography. Not as much for the blinding flash, but it flattens an image. The people nearby are brightly lit (sometimes too bright), the background is black or near so. The whole atmosphere is gone. Most parties (as on the videos shown in TFA) use coloured lights and so: that is all gone as soon as you flash. Photos taken without flash (albeit much harder to do without having them blurred) usually look so much better.

      That said: I'd love to see actual real-life results of this beer cooler in ac

      • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:52PM (#38379878) Homepage Journal

        "Your money was well-spent, sonny. She's been cheating on you."

        "I suspected as much, that's why I hired a private dick. But it's proof I need."

        "You're not gonna like it..."

        "I can take it. I have to know, for sure."

        PD slides an envelope across the table. Man opens it. He stares, aghast.

        "Oh my god."

        "I'm sorry, sonny. Been workin' this line of business twenty years, but I never get used to the look of guy's faces. Some guys, they don't really want to know. They want to hold on to a forlorn hope that maybe, just maybe, the dame really was visiting her sister, see?"


        "Look, I'm not proud of what I do. But you hired me, sonny. If you didn't want to know, y-"

        "You used a flash! Where's the artistry? It's so unnatural. Her form intermingled with my soon-to-be-dead friend's.. look at their bodies. There's no depth. The lighting, good god man, the lighting! I'm supposed to believe this was a romantic interlude? They're like lifeless puppets!"

      • A decent photographer would know to drag the shutter so you get a good blend of ambient light with enough fill flash to freeze the action and properly expose the subject.

      • In a relatively enclosed space (a regular room in a house, for example) you can significantly reduce this washing-out effect by taping a little piece of card in front of your flash. Put it at a 45 degree angle to horizontal, touching the flash at the base (this is easier if you leave two corners to fold over, making a neat surround for the flash). This will redirect the vast majority of the light upwards providing indirect lighting (great for killing shadows), and still let plenty of light through the card
  • by Kuipo ( 948744 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:04PM (#38378070) Homepage
    This will go great with my strobe light at my next party!
  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:05PM (#38378086) Journal

    If you're an adult, no problem going to a bar/party. Just don't strip to your undies and and poor beer on yourself. If you're married, don't go out to public places with the prostitute/mistress. Don't throw wild keggers in your backyard. If you're going to go through this much trouble not to have your picture taken, you may want to 1) rethink your priorities, or 2) do such things in relative privacy with people you trust.

    If you're still young, go be an idiot. That's what college is for, generally.

    • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:12PM (#38378172)

      Yeah, but let's be realistic. There's a lot of things we might do in jest among friends that could be detrimental in the future. People snapping pictures surreptitiously at parties or "spy shots" should be kicked out, like what happened to Phelps.

      • by Menkhaf ( 627996 )
        I say we attack this problem from another angle. Instead of using a "flash blocking beer coolor", put your pictures online. Same goes for opinions, sexual preferences, and any other personal detail you can think of. With enough people joining in, we'll change the standard and make it publicly acceptable to act yourself (or be an ass).

        I'll start: I'm drunk on the remains of a Cuban Havana Club. Mmmmmm.
      • I think we're eventually going to have to come to terms with the fact that we've done stupid things in our lifetime. If you don't hire anyone who has a stupid picture of themselves on facebook, then the employee pool is going to be too small for you.
        • Eactly, it's like when people's naked pictures leak onto the internet and there's an outcry about somone's career being ruined. I truly don't get that because last time I checked everyone had nipples and buttocks, were we supposed to believe that "famous people" didn't?

    • If you're still young, go be an idiot. That's what college is for, generally.

      Just don't throw up pictures of yourself being an idiot on Facebook. Or let you friends do so. In fact, don't have Facebook at all, or have friends whom you (moderately) trust. Hell, I just graduated and I wouldn't generally go drinking without trustworthy friends (certainly not to bars), if only to make sure I got home safely if I had one too many (which may or may not have happened to me, my memory is a little... fuzzy, at times). College student or not, those kinds of pictures can and quite likely will b

    • by Mousit ( 646085 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:35PM (#38378438)
      You don't have to be an idiot for a picture to be a problem. After all, there was the somewhat recent case (even featured here on Slashdot, sorry I'm too lazy to dig up links) of the kindergarten teacher that was fired over a photo of her at a party, drinking from a cup that allegedly contained alcohol (gasp). She was of course legal, and was doing nothing unusual, merely smiling and drinking, but it was deemed "inappropriate" for her position, whatever the fuck that means.

      There's a plethora of such cases. Or the numerous stories (again, featured on Slashdot too) of companies that troll social networking sites (or employ third parties to do so for them) to look up info on applicants and potential hires. Simply being at a party, drinking, is often frowned upon as the companies have outright stated when interviewed on this subject. There's also the issue of not everyone in your social circle may respect your wishes about no pictures (yes, I think that makes them jackasses), and this is especially true of parties where attendants may not all be your personal friends. Friends of friends, acquaintances, the types that are even more especially likely to not know and/or respect your picture wishes.

      All of this, of course, are symptoms of a much larger blight on our society, but nonetheless, the point still stands: a picture of you drinking at a party does not necessarily have to show you being an idiot, to affect your life. Especially your professional life.
      • ^^
        True those. I didn't feel like breaking down everything; I'd be here all night.

        The professional angle is one that is at least, interesting. I've had top level bosses that would get blotted at every company party, and it was officially called "being a character." At the time I was entry level, so I just drank soda, just in case. Some others didn't, and the following week rumors of the boss(es) being displeased were circulating. For things like "Bob had 3(!!!) beers."

        And that was for people at the same

      • You don't have to be an idiot for a picture to be a problem. After all, there was the somewhat recent case (even featured here on Slashdot, sorry I'm too lazy to dig up links) of the kindergarten teacher that was fired over a photo of her at a party, drinking from a cup that allegedly contained alcohol (gasp). She was of course legal, and was doing nothing unusual, merely smiling and drinking, but it was deemed "inappropriate" for her position, whatever the fuck that means.

        Sounds more like an employer finding an excuse to get rid of a person they considered either not good at her job, or with whom they simply could not get along personally.

        • You laugh, but I attended an elementary school that was run by a church. Being photographed with alcohol (or something that might be alcohol) in your hands would actually have constituted grounds for firing a teacher.
          • As a child my parents would take me to church often. Part of the mass was always the braking and sharing of bread and wine. That's alcoholic of course. And when there was some meeting in the evening it would also be quite common to have wine and beer around. Oh well, different church, different culture as well probably.

            • Well, it wasn't a Catholic church. It was the sort of place where consumption of alcohol - at all, ever, in any quantity - was frowned upon. My parents didn't subscribe to the their morality, but it provided an excellent primary education at a very low cost, and it was close - starting in third grade, I rode my bike to and from school unless the weather was bad.
              • You gotta get into the mindset of those fundamentalists. You see, if you read the bible "literally", it becomes abundantly clear that "wine" means "grape juice". Or something. Ah, well - as long as they didn't inject their bullcrap into the teaching, let em be.
                • It was a private school, so they were well within their rights to inject whatever they chose into the curriculum. And they did. We used A Beka books, which have students learn to diagram sentences with such examples as "God does wonderful things for us every day". In their favor, though, they did actually teach diagramming and other parts of grammar, which most of the local public schools couldn't be bothered to do.
      • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @12:46AM (#38380198) Journal

        . Simply being at a party, drinking, is often frowned upon as the companies have outright stated when interviewed on this subject.

        Personally I'm glad that these companies do this filtering, because it saves me the potential trouble of going to work for them, finding out they've got a stick up their corporate asses, and then having to look for another job and quit. However I understand other people might be in more need of a job, so I fully support finding anyone who hires and fires based on such things and photographing them in compromising positions.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      What about people who are just done want their photo taken?

  • Not of me of course, I was merely an innocent bystander, too afraid of my wifes wrath.

  • by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:19PM (#38378252) Homepage Journal

    Can I get this for my license plates?

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      When was the last time you saw a flash when you got done for speeding?

    • This is old technology in a new packing.

      Secondary flashes (or however they're called properly) are used for a very long time: usually in photo shoots where the camera of the photographer shoots a flash aimed at the ceiling, triggering the real flash (or multiple flashlights) that are positioned around the model to provide even lighting. This is the exact same principle, just with the secondary flash aimed at the camera instead.

      You should be able to easily build this into your car if you would want to. Put t

    • I've been wondering about illuminating my license plate with inexpensive infrared LEDs [] at each corner. They won't help during daylight hours, but IR-sensitive night cameras should be rendered useless. Great holiday gift for those with foil hats and hate the thought of automated license plate scanners that are being used to troll traffic for black hats.
    • by Rary ( 566291 )

      Can I get this for my license plates?

      Yes. [] [] [] []

      Probably many others too. I have no idea the legality of these, but I've seen a few of them in the wild. I don't personally use or endorse any of them.

    • A product exists that might be suitable to your interests. [] "Once sprayed on your license plate, PhotoBlockerâ(TM)s special formula produces a high-powered gloss that reflects the flash back towards the camera. This overexposes the image of your license plate, rendering the picture unreadable. With PhotoBlocker, your license plate is invisible to traffic cameras yet completely legible to the naked eye."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:21PM (#38378276)
    would the first stray flash trigger a duel to the death?
    • LOL

      On a more serious note: no. After a flash or two the capacitors are empty and need to recharge from the batteries, which takes a while (seconds at least - more than enough to break the cycle). A flash can't fire often in quick succession.

    • No, it would make the party an AWESOME MOSH PIT.

  • ... by any anti-redeye camera that does a pre-flash. However, it is quite successful if considered solely as a promotional tool for this particular beer company.

    • by rev0lt ( 1950662 )
      The preflash to to eliminate red eyes is a low intensity one, and often photocell-driven photographic equipment won't fire until the real deal.
    • The red-eye emission is typically a rapidly pulsed emission of much, much lower intensity flashes than the actual flash emission. Setting the trigger level would be pretty easy to do.

      I'd be more concerned about the pre-flash used for metering. You normally can barely see it but there are actually two pulses in nearly every camera flash: A pre-flash fires to figure out the reflectivity of the scene so the camera can know how long to fire the main flash. With a bit of bad luck it would be possible that the

  • Imagine for a moment a room where between six to ten people have one of these. Someone snaps a photo, and one goes off. The flash sets off another, which in turn sets of others, and so on, eventually retriggering the first one.

    While arguably an interesting light show, I don't think that's an intended behavior.

  • by CaptBubba ( 696284 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:30PM (#38379796)

    A pretty good marketing stunt, but I'm sure other uses can be found for this in areas where photos are not desired for privacy reasons.

    One that I can think of right away would be at abortion clinics. Many protestors will try to take photographs of the people entering the clinics and then post them online to try and shame them. I'd love to see this sort of tech spoil their day.

  • you need to approve photos tagged of you before people can see them..
    hardly a concern..

  • by Geeky ( 90998 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:05AM (#38381564)

    I go to Erotica in London every year (if you don't know what it is, google it - it's held at Olympia every November).

    In previous years, photography has been banned outright. You were even supposed to leave cameras with security if you had them on you when you arrived.

    This year, the terms and conditions allowed for photography as long as it was with the consent of the subject. I guess they realised they were fighting a tide and couldn't police all the camera phones so just gave in to the inevitable.

    Lots of people dress up (or down!) for it, though, and some give free rein to their "thing" - you see people in slave gear, cross dressers and so on. Despite the rules, people were taking surreptitious snaps which no doubt would end up online. OK, the subjects won't be tagged, but who's to say that they won't be spotted?

    While I firmly believe noone should care what you do in your private life, a genuine picture blocker would be useful in the sad world in which we live.

    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      They have those led's that constantly emit a near visible light that can obscure your face in most photo's from the glare. Put a couple of those with some watch batteries into your collar and you can probably hide your identity from >95% of photographs.

  • This just seems stupid.
    You don't even need a full-frame camera with an expensive 1.4 lens in order to get good shots.
    Any camera with manual control over aperture and flash output will do.
    This "picture blocking beer cooler"(TM)(C) is just an additional light-source with constant output, so consider it as such :

    1) Camera set to Manual mode (let's say ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/60, Daylight WB) and low pop-up flash on manual (say 1/16). The pop-up flash only helps to trigger the beer-cooler, and soon won't contribute t

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:10AM (#38382456) Homepage

    While the photog owns copyright in asny pictures taken, the subjects of the photo also have rights. Why else do newsies get signed releases?

    Once you discover a undesireable photo, why not send a DMCA takedown notice to the offending site (Facebook?)

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel