Apple files patent for system to deny recharging to stolen gadgets

Apple recently filed a patent for a security method that would keep thieves that steal iPod’s and iPhone’s from being able to charge them. The idea is that the Apple gadgets can only be charged by user-approved power supplies.


Somehow Apple will make it so that the iPod or iPhone can tell the difference between your charge cable and mine and wouldn’t allow me to charge the gadget. The patent also says that there is a way for users to disable charging if the device gets outside a predefined geographical area.


We can safely assume that last one is for the iPhone, since the iPod really has no way of knowing where exactly it is geographically. The part about this system that I don’t get is how exactly the system works if you forget your password. I am also curious as to how exactly you add new user approved devices to the list. For instance, what if I am at a friend’s house and need to charge my iPod. Is it easy to add his charger as an approved item?


Apple also says in the patent that this isn’t a method of locking out third-party chargers, that the user can specify any charge systems third-party or not. That certainly brings the question up in my mind of how the system works, at first glance you might think it was a collaboration between the charge cable and the device. Perhaps it is, I guess on devices with this implemented the third-part charger may be required to have some sort of electronics onboard as well.


The real question for me is will this really stop thieves from trying to rip off Apple gadgets? Personally, I don’t think so. I think a thief is going to be willing to take his chances on getting a Apple device not configured correctly. I also think it will only be a matter of time before hackers bypass the security mechanisms. After all, the iPhone is barely hit the shelves and already there are gobs of iPhone hacks floating around.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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