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Imprisoning hardware

Devices which fiercely resist the consumer.
  [vote for,

Most digital cameras transfer mere JPEGs to the PC and you cannot get at the raw data.

There are to my mind four sensory devices joined to a computer, sound system, iPod or whatever: vision in (camera), vision out (display), sound in (microphone) and sound out (speakers). Currently, these are sort of analogue in nature most of the time. This makes them easier to hijack, which i personally like. However, it need not be so.

Construct a laminated piezoelectric crystal with an onboard chip. Vibrations generating signals in the crystal are immediately converted to digital and encrypted before they leave the chip. The signal is then transmitted digitally, either down a wire or wirelessly, into a proprietary interface which is nothing like a jackplug, USB or anything else standard. However, a cryptographic key exists in the device which is sent on one occasion to the peripheral and locks it to use with that hardware alone.

Similar peripherals constitute the display, camera and speaker, optical drives, burners, network connection - you name it. There is no analogue and the peripherals themselves are tamper-proof - perhaps the silicon is naked inside and they're vacuum-packed. They can't be converted to analogue because attempting to modify them will destroy them. "Sadly", they gradually leak, so after a couple of years they fail. Oh dear - have to get a new one then. In any case, there are clocks counting down in all the hardware leading to permanent failure after a certain period of time. The peripherals simply refuse to function. The same system applies to the keyboard, pointing device, you name it.

The display is difficult to video because, unlike a normal TFT, it flickers at a different prime number of Hz every second, fast enough not to cause irritation or a dangerous strobe effect. Don't know what to do about the speakers though.

There is an advantage to the consumer. Because all the signals are digital, there is no possibility of mains hum, interference from wiring, crackling from loose connections or most other kinds of interference. That's how it's sold. It's also cheaper than most hardware, but you have to replace it far more often. Another advantage would be relative security, except for the manufacturer, who would know the key and be able to monitor everything you do. The operating system is of course utterly proprietary. It doesn't run Windows because that would probably need an Intel-compatible CPU and other non-proprietary hardware, which you might be able to buy from another manufacturer, and we can't have that.

There is a range of devices, including media, peripherals and hardware, which behave this way, each compatible only with the other devices, and each locked to each other as a closed set.

nineteenthly, Mar 10 2010


       Yes, having the manufacturer able to monitor everything I do would be SUCH a help. [/sarcasm] And of course, if you want to use it in a non-standard way, you're SOL. [-]
gisho, Mar 10 2010

       Exactly. Horrible, isn't it?
nineteenthly, Mar 10 2010

       I think you're trying to make a joke, but it falls flat inasmuch as DRM suggest manufacturers would actually do this if they could get away with it.
gisho, Mar 10 2010

       They have indeed tried, with varying degrees of success. Apple and Sony are fairly good examples.   

       I'm not entirely serious of course, but it interests me to contemplate how it might be done.
nineteenthly, Mar 10 2010

       Chillingly bakeable. I don't know whether to [+] for the ingenuity or [-] for the sheer evil. [ ]
BunsenHoneydew, Mar 17 2010

       I should consider that a compliment, i think.   

       But, i've long found the tendency of digital cameras and scanners to upload JPEGs and nothing else to be irritating on an intellectual level, and i see this as similar. There was a lot about the "analogue hole" a couple of years back.   

       I can see one advantage, which would be all or nothing perfect "reception".
nineteenthly, Mar 17 2010

       Seemingly semi-baked by every PC I've ever had the displeasure of owning, since the hardware standard changes every 6 months or so for memory, drives, chipsets, etc.   

       The wife's Kodak camera actually uses a transfer cable to view pictures on TV which was almost exactly, but not quite, like the standard 1/8" stereo headphone jack on one end, with an additional proprietary-spaced ring. It was lost for a few years. Of course the next model of Kodak cameras didn't use this cord at all, and so they no longer sold it. It drove us all nuts for years until the cable was found again.
RayfordSteele, Mar 17 2010


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