Microsoft files patent for automatically quieting mobile devices

As we become a society that depends more and more on using smartphones, their use is also becoming restricted in a number of situations, such as driving a car or sitting in a movie theater. Now Microsoft has filed a new patent that is designed to silence such a device automatically in certain instances.

The company filed for the patent to the United States Trademark and Patent Office in August but it only became visible to the public in the past few days. The application offers of a summary of how it would work:

A device quiet service is implemented to initiate a device quiet control that quiets one or more of the other associated devices that are controllable by the mobile device, and the device quiet service initiates communication of the device quiet control to the associated devices. A device quiet control can be initiated to restrict communication functions of the other associated devices, such as for a designated time duration.

The application adds that such a service could be used to mute a mobile device at a specific location, such as a school or movie theater or during an event like a business meeting. Some movie theaters already have technology designed to block WiFi and cellular traffic.

While filing for a patent does not mean that Microsoft is actively working on such a feature, we would not be surprised to see a version of it included in a future version of Windows Phone.

Source: USTPO via Patent Bolt | Image via Microsoft

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28 Comments

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As long as it's optional it's a good thing, otherwise no thanks. Next thing you know, everyone but you will decide on where it's "appropriate" to communicate.

This is what the Moto X (Android) already does.

This, perhaps, is expected because the Moto X has been deemed as a Game Changer, meaning Microsoft has to do it too (i.e. Bing, Maps, browser tabs, browser extensions, web apps, online document collaboration, tablet computing, etc.... just to name a few).

Is this something a business owner can install in their space to ensure quiet; such as hospitals, churches, synagogues, restaurants, theaters, etc.? Mobile device users have shown their insensitivity to others and need someone or something else to force acceptable behavior for the betterment of all.

Let me start by saying that I am not a patent lawyer, nor am I an expert in patent law. I would question the patentability of this. This is an obvious idea. I wrote an application 2-3 years ago demoing this feature in Android. It is easily doable based on features in mobile devices. I am shocked that the patent office in the US would approve this.

This feature has been possible for years on Android devices... I have a "Tasker" profile that puts my phone on vibration (on do many other things too) based on different locations / time of the day / wifi networks detected in the area or NFC tags.

For example, I have a NFC tag in my car. When I connect my phone in my car, it disables Wifi, notifications, etc., it enables bluetooth, GPS, adjust volume, send a SMS to my wife to tell her I'm driving, auto-answers SMS I receive, etc.

When my home wifi is detected, I have a "Night" profile that enables itself at 10pm, it sets my alarm automatically on certain days, adjust the volume, disable bluetooth/notifications/data, enable wifi, etc.


The US patent system is broken... you can patent anything it seems...

Am i the only one who doesn't agree with the blocking of Cellular signals in cinemas? What if a member of your family needed you because they are in an accident or need you for an emergency such as a family member is dying or your house is burning down!

Yeah as a parent who has to leave our daughter in the care of a babysitter when my wife and I see a movie, I don't like this at all. Of course I would leave the theater to take the call, but I'm also civilized enough to turn off my ringer in a movie theater.

mcloum said,
Am i the only one who doesn't agree with the blocking of Cellular signals in cinemas? What if a member of your family needed you because they are in an accident or need you for an emergency such as a family member is dying or your house is burning down!

I agree as well; the point is to teach people the proper manners when they are young. What about doctors or other people involved with emergency response services? Should they not be able to attend a movie theatre? Plus of course, as you mentioned, any kind of personal emergency.

Fritzly said,

I agree as well; the point is to teach people the proper manners when they are young. What about doctors or other people involved with emergency response services? Should they not be able to attend a movie theatre? Plus of course, as you mentioned, any kind of personal emergency.

I agree. But from what I'm reading, it quiets the device, it doesn't disable the receiving of calls...? Or am I missing something?

The device should be silenced anyway, this just does it for you since so few people can be bothered.

I would assume that you could still receive a call, and (hopefully) step out of the theater to take it if it's an emergency...

M_Lyons10 said,

I agree. But from what I'm reading, it quiets the device, it doesn't disable the receiving of calls...? Or am I missing something?

The device should be silenced anyway, this just does it for you since so few people can be bothered.

I would assume that you could still receive a call, and (hopefully) step out of the theater to take it if it's an emergency...


Actually it is quite vague: in the beginning describes a mobile device that can silence other, connected devices; at the end though it also mention:
"A device quiet control can be initiated to restrict communication functions".
It will be, as usual, how it will be implemented.

M_Lyons10 said,

I agree. But from what I'm reading, it quiets the device, it doesn't disable the receiving of calls...? Or am I missing something?

The device should be silenced anyway, this just does it for you since so few people can be bothered.

I would assume that you could still receive a call, and (hopefully) step out of the theater to take it if it's an emergency...

I think the OP in this thread, as well as myself were referring to this line, rather than the patent itself.

"Some movie theaters already have technology designed to block WiFi and cellular traffic."

scumdogmillionaire said,

I think the OP in this thread, as well as myself were referring to this line, rather than the patent itself.

"Some movie theaters already have technology designed to block WiFi and cellular traffic."

Ah, fair enough. That I don't agree with either.

scumdogmillionaire said,
Yeah as a parent who has to leave our daughter in the care of a babysitter when my wife and I see a movie, I don't like this at all. Of course I would leave the theater to take the call, but I'm also civilized enough to turn off my ringer in a movie theater.

What did you do before cell phones were everywhere?

I'm not really arguing one way or the other on this matter, but I can see both sides of it.

spenser.d said,

What did you do before cell phones were everywhere?

I'm not really arguing one way or the other on this matter, but I can see both sides of it.

I'm only 30. Didn't have to worry about it

M_Lyons10 said,

I agree. But from what I'm reading, it quiets the device, it doesn't disable the receiving of calls...? Or am I missing something?
.

The article mentions some theatres deploy devices that block signals.

Some movie theaters already have technology designed to block WiFi and cellular traffic

Im all for a device that mutes itself from audible alerts (iPhone and Android do this during the night) but blocking actual access to your mobile network by the building/company you are in is something i do not agree with, and im sure should be illegal in public places.

I'm ok with this happening in the movie theater locations. I would be thrilled! (And if it could automatically almost darken screen settings in them as well, because we all have been there when some jerk is two rows down with this phone's brightness set on MAX playing around on FB in the middle of a packed movie).

GP007 said,
If this will stop cellphones from working or just making noise in a movie theater then I'm all for it.

Not going to stop the noise from those who are grazing on a lifetimes supply of popcorn in 2 hours though is it.

the better twin said,

Not going to stop the noise from those who are grazing on a lifetimes supply of popcorn in 2 hours though is it.

Stop watching silent movies then?

GP007 said,
If this will stop cellphones from working or just making noise in a movie theater then I'm all for it.

Agreed. Or the people that text throughout the movie... Forget 'quieting' it, shut it down. LMAO

M_Lyons10 said,

Agreed. Or the people that text throughout the movie... Forget 'quieting' it, shut it down. LMAO

Yeah, when I see people take out their cellphones in the middle of a movie I facepalm. I just spent money to watch a movie so I'm going to watch it, not check my phone.

GP007 said,

Yeah, when I see people take out their cellphones in the middle of a movie I facepalm. I just spent money to watch a movie so I'm going to watch it, not check my phone.

THIS! LOL