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Photoblocker Bucket Doesn’t Get the Big Picture

December 22, 2011 By: Sean Evans

Argentinean beer manufacturer Norte recently announced an invention called the Photoblocker. On it’s surface, it’s a moderately cool ice bucket, fully functional for keeping bottles chilled. But try to take a picture with a flash anywhere around it and the bucket instinctively acts as burly bodyguard to thwart your efforts. Sensors in the device detect lens flares and instantly respond with bright flashes, washing out your photograph in solid white light.

While it’s a unique and novel enough concept, it leaves anyone with a general understanding of nightlife pointing out a number of basic flaws, both in the physical execution and in the basis for the idea. The largest among them is that Norte has assumed that people who venture to clubs and bars are generally unscrupulous creatures with such inherent character deficiencies that they need to always worry about their heinous transgressions eventually coming to light.

The company’s brow-furrowing ad campaign (one of which is visible here) warns consumers that “social networks have turned nights out into… HELL,” before flashing generic club shots of patrons having their pictures taken while engaged in various forms of deviant behavior. The copy accompanying these images reads “Divorce,” “You Floozy,” “You’re Fired” and “Dirty Old Man.”

Okay, Norte. Let’s assume for a second that a select percentage of any given venue’s crowd does fall into those aforementioned categories. The cheating spouse aside (it’s ethically wrong but not unsafe for neighboring patrons), doesn’t someone whose actions are indicative of a drunk “floozy” or a “dirty old man” represent a larger, physical problem for the venue? Any decent establishment would usher a stumbling drunk girl or a leering, handsy gentleman right out the door. So they wouldn’t be there in the first place, worrying about having their images captured.

Next, this product only works efficiently if you’re standing around or beside it. If a customer is in front of the Photoblocker, then its sensorsPhotoblocker will be blocked and rendered ineffective. And if the patron’s at the bar or in the bathroom line, then it’s also ineffective. So it’s just for the table, and since tables account for such a small amount of real estate within a nightclub, there’s really no need for the Photoblocker.

Then there’s the fact that the Photoblocker can’t discern between malicious pictures and wanted ones. If it’s just reacting to any flash, then it can’t tell if it’s your house photographer or a paparazzi snapping whatever celeb is sitting inside your venue. Or what if your big bottle service client wants to snap a picture with one of his friends? Then he has to move the bucket or remember to shut it off, lest it flash during his shot, all of which are needless little hassles to contend with.

Also, the Photoblocker only works if there is a flash going off. Assuming they’ve done due diligence and been able to accurately program the device to distinguish between your strobe lights and a camera’s flash, it shouldn’t fire erroneously, but it also won’t fire when someone waits for the strobes to pop off and then snaps a picture of the bright room without needing their camera’s flash.

Finally, the real problem isn’t a patron being photographed doing something they shouldn’t be doing; it’s that they’re allowed to do these things at your business. And given the way Norte is marketing the Photoblocker, the mere presence of one of the units would suggest you do allow less-than-savory clientele into your venue. You’re admitting some of your patrons need help in protecting their shady actions, so what kind of message does that send about your club? Be selective at the door and diligent and judicious with your management of the crowd once they’re inside, and you’ll never need a product like this.


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