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Billionaire Adds Laser Shield To Yacht

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the charge-the-ion-cannon dept.

Technology 16

IamSmee writes "Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich's 557 ft yacht, Eclipse, now boasts a paparrazi-foiling shield of laser beams. From the article: 'Infrared lasers detect the electronic light sensors in nearby cameras, known as charge-coupled devices. When the system detects such a device, it fires a focused beam of light at the camera, disrupting its ability to record a digital image. The beams can also be activated manually by security guards if they spot a photographer loitering.'"

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How does this work? (2, Informative)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29521617)

I'll tell ya. Optics systems have a property called retroreflection. Shine a laser into a lens and some of it will return right back to the source. A scanning laser can find the location of an optical system pointed at it quite quickly.

You could even do it with a bright IR flash and some image processing to look for the focused reflection. Just like spotting a racoon by the side of the road at night. Then you point your disruption laser at the target.

And in warfare, it's quite easy to use this property to find biological optical systems. AKA, eyeballs. Much stronger lasers can then be pointed at the targets to melt them.

Re:How does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522477)

I got my eyes closed. You can't see me. Naner Naner Naner

Re:How does this work? (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#29598419)

I got my eyes closed. You can't see me. Naner Naner Naner

That only works on the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal

In tonight's news: Rich jerk gets scammed. (1)

professorguy (1108737) | about 5 years ago | (#29542617)

But my DSLR doesn't expose its CCD to the outside world until I release the shutter. Let's say I set the shutter speed to 1/2000 second. Are you saying this system can detect the CCD, aim the laser and fire a big enough pulse to destroy the image within 500 microseconds? Sounds VERY unlikely.

And if the glass (the optical lens) itself is being detected (although TFA says it's the CCD being detected), then ALL optics would trigger it, including everyone's eyeglasses. And what about all the taillights (taillights include retroreflectors) of every car in the port's nearby parking lot? Epic fail!

Bottom line: Being rich doesn't mean you are necessarily smart enough to escape being scammed.

Re:In tonight's news: Rich jerk gets scammed. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 5 years ago | (#29549763)

And if the glass (the optical lens) itself is being detected (although TFA says it's the CCD being detected), then ALL optics would trigger it, including everyone's eyeglasses.

TFA is probably wrong (not that I've wasted time reading TFA ... of course not ; this is SlashDot). I don't know if they've tried to patent this, but the principle is pretty obvious. Most (not all, but most) lens systems have one or more target-facing elements that are curves (almost always spherical, because they're easiest to make) that are symmetrical about the targeting axis. If you project a light beam perpendicularly at a spherical surface (actually, any surface, but let's stick to spheres because they're commonest), then whatever proportion of the light is reflected will return along the path of the original beam.
So, going back to what was suggested concerning a bright IR flash, you fire the flash and look for reflections ; the brightest reflections are goign to be from flat surfaces with the specific alignment to be normal to beams from your light source, or from curved surfaces. For a relatively small surface, inside some sort of baffle (which is one way of looking at a lens in it's supporting structure), then the optical axis is going to be pointing fairly closely to the light source.
I can see how you could make life more difficult for this system - an optical flat angled away from the camera's targeting axis, combined with partial silvering to reduce the light leaking back out of the lens. But you'd do it at the cost of weight, expense and optical quality. How much of a deterrent this would be to paparrazi is unclear - the big lenses they routinely use come in on price tags of months of work for Joanna Q Average (Joe Sixpack doesn't work hard enough and got fired.). But it would be a hassle.

And what about all the taillights (taillights include retroreflectors) of every car in the port's nearby parking lot? Epic fail!

That's potentially more of a problem. Most tail light I've seen for years have employed an array of moulded-plastic Corner Cube [wikipedia.org] reflectors. These are designed to return impinging beams in their direction of origin, within similar field-of-view constraints to the surfaces of camera lenses.
But consider the location being protected : it's a boat, a big boat. Already Abramovich will be in the habit of docking the boat so that the outdoor areas are less visible from general passers by - for the same reason that people park up in "Lover's Lane" for a sly shag. Parking areas are going to be high on the list of places that he already avoids. As for small boats in the harbour, the other side of the bay, etc ... well these are precisely the areas that are going to be popular with paparazzi.

I gave non-trivial thought about how to design such a system myself - purely as a "I don't like CCTV watching me stagger out of the pub" plan. Pretty much the same results.

You could probably do a lot with AI to identify stationary targets, moving targets, appearing and disappearing targets. But he's probably already got that sort of stuff for his security people already. If he's got the money and the cause to fear the assassin's bullet, then he's probably already got most of what goes into this system. He's just given the security staff a "Fry CCD" button to go next to the "send round bribed police", "target machine gun" and "call in airstrike" buttons.

How well the CCD fryer actually works ... I don't know. But a big fat fuck-off IR laser painting a target on a hillside by night could be just the thing that the goons, or the laser-guided missile, needs to get the right target.

Re:How does this work? (1)

RMH101 (636144) | about 5 years ago | (#29565771)

What happens when you point a disruption laser not at a camera, but at a telescope with a human eye on the end of it?

Re:How does this work? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 5 years ago | (#29567525)

I don't know.

Time to dig out those old film cameras! (2, Informative)

jcohen (131471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29521697)

If the laser beams only detect and disable CCDs, then, in theory, conventional cameras should be unaffected.

Re:Time to dig out those old film cameras! (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29528715)

I'm pretty sure a traditional film camera would experience similar difficulties if laser light were flooding the lens.

Re:Time to dig out those old film cameras! (1)

FlickieStrife (1304115) | about 5 years ago | (#29531405)

Considering the picture of the yacht in the post.... I would imagine that is correct. I would imagine that the picture is from a digital camera though, so it seems only to respond to the red recording light on most cam corders

Re:Time to dig out those old film cameras! (2, Informative)

FCAdcock (531678) | about 5 years ago | (#29532817)

Not at all.

The picture is either old, or of a different ship.

The system has nothing to do with the little red light, it senses the light processing unit of the camera and blinds it with a laser. You could cover up that little red light all you wanted and it wouldn't have any effect, your photo would still be crapped. No digital camera, didital video recorder, even camera phone will work.

A poster above asked if it would affect a regular film camera and no, it wouldn't. Not unless the system was manually aimed at the camera. The system can't detect film cameras to disable them on it's own, but manually aiming in at one would still flood the film with light and return pictures of nothing.

My question is about the legality of such a device. Lord knows he couldn't pull up to port in England (or any other location with govt. monitored CCTV cameras) and disable their systems without some major issues. If there was a bank, govt. office, or other importany building nearby with security cameras it wouldn't be legal to disable them either.

Which pretty much means that you can't use this system in dock, so you can only use it at sea, and really, how many paparazzi are out at sea?

And what is this guy doing on this ship that he doesn't want pictures taken of it?

Re:Time to dig out those old film cameras! (1)

Fotograf (1515543) | about 5 years ago | (#29536849)

xcept, majority of time, DSLRs are just pass through optical systems, just like binoculars. So unless he wants to burn eyes of bystanders at beaches, somebody just pulled moneys for nothing from him.

Lasers... (1)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | about 5 years ago | (#29526513)

...to get rid of the sharks. Got it.

I have one simple request (2, Funny)

No-Cool-Nickname (1287972) | about 5 years ago | (#29530455)

And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here!

The human eye is a camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29533779)

The human eye is a camera.

A person wearing glasses may appear to be a camera.

A person using binoculars will definitely look like a camera.

Scrapbookers Foiled (1)

fouleaf (1644405) | about 5 years ago | (#29571215)

I wonder what the range is on this thing. I hope they thought to not include the deck in the targetable area, otherwise I'll bet that he has relatives who'll be furious. Then again, he won't have to worry about those pesky family scrapbooks anymore!

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