I’m really hoping that this is one of those patents where the inventor thought “Wow. This is the worst idea ever – I’m going to patent it and never use it, so nobody will ever have to deal with this.” Inventors do that all the time, right? Right?
Microsoft has applied to patent something they’re calling “Device Manners Policy”, or DMP. Business owners can establish these policies, emitting them to your device. Don’t want anybody taking pictures in your museum? Place a “No Photos” RFID in the exhibit. Don’t want any bleeps and bloops going off in your movie theater? Set the “No Noise” policy on the DMP server.
Now, I get annoyed as anybody when some jerk’s Chris Brown ringtone keeps going off in the middle of Mission Impossible III. However, wirelessly nerfing handsets is not the way to fix this. Would you allow someone to reach into your pocket and silence your phone? I sure as hell wouldn’t.
The potential for nastiness with this is just mind boggling. Imagine missing the call that your expected son is being delivered early, because the coffee shop you stopped in felt it was necessary to turn off your ringer. Imagine missing that once-in-a-life-time shot just because the company next door disabled photography.
Business owners have a right to request patrons follow reasonable guidelines, but this is a giant leap outside of that realm of authority. It’d be like a business owner duct taping a patron’s mouth. First thing I’d do with a DMP enabled device is attempt to disable the receiver; if all else fails, I’d fix it with a hammer.
Fortunately, this is about as feasible as declaring that all future devices must be made of deli meats. Microsoft would have to convince every device manufacturer to implement it, or face users seeing DMP-enabled devices as something to avoid. I’d certainly like my fancy new phone a whole lot less if it blocked a call as Joe Otherbrand walked by chattin’ away.