Using lasers and sensors to catch film bootleggers in action

A young man looks at pirated movies for sale at a street stall in downtown San Salvador, 01 March 2006. 

Millions of people will head to the movies this weekend. It's one of the biggest opportunities for blockbusters and movie studios to rake it in. But it's also a time when some people will try to bootleg new movies. With good cameras and audio equipment becoming smaller and more powerful all the time, the issue is becoming an even larger concern for the film industry. 

A new company called PirateEye is helping the situation by installing a technology that uses lasers and sensors to find camera lenses in the audience and alert the theater. Brian Dunn, CEO of PirateEye, says the technology originated for use in the military to detect snipers, but his company adapted it for use in movie theaters. He tells Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson of one example of catching somebody real-time in a theater in the Bronx trying to bootleg a movie.

"A guy showed up at Friday at 11 o'clock for the first show and pulled out his camera and we captured the evidence and New York City police arrested him."

Dunn says the company is testing other practical applications of PirateEye beyond catching bootleggers, such as using the technology for testing audience reactions, demographic analysis, and developing applications to make pre-show advertising more relevant. 

Brian Dunn, CEO of PirateEye, spoke with Marketplace Tech Ben Johnson. Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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