The ‘Smart Pouch’ Keeping Fans from Using Phones at Concerts
Cellphone use is one of the major annoyances of live event attendance in the 21st century — so much so that Apple is developing technology that would allow venues and performers to stop fans from filming their shows. And theirs is far from the only — or the highest-tech — solution.
NPR shares word of a company called Yondr, developers of a locking pouch that keeps phones off-limits to their owners as long as they're inside the venue. It's a far simpler approach than the type of tech Apple is working on, but one that's proven effective for a growing group of artists.
According to the report, the Lumineers used Yondr to keep fans from recording a series of secret pre-release shows held prior to the debut of their recent Cleopatra LP. As lead singer Wesley Schultz put it, "There was a large concern about the album being sort-of released via grainy video and leaked out online."
Aside from the growing risk of new material hitting YouTube via fan-shot live footage before the artist can release it on his or her own terms, Schultz stands with those who would rather see audience members engaging with music in the moment. "If you can set it up so that people can't get to their phones as easily or are deterred, people actually really welcome that," he added. "It's just such a strong force of habit in our lives right now."
And if you're sitting there thinking that a silly little pouch wouldn't be enough to stop you from grabbing your phone if you really wanted to sneak some footage during the show, don't be so sure. As Schultz told NPR, the Yondr design includes some impressive deterrents.
"A guy brought in a knife with him — just, he usually carries a knife, I guess — and he tried to stab through the case," he recalled. "And it's got steel, I think, woven into it. So his knife got stuck in the thing, and then when he had to leave, he had the embarrassing deal of having to tell the people that he tried to open it, and they had to pry his knife loose."
As plenty of people have pointed out, Apple's tech could carry a veritable Pandora's box of side effects — including being used to prevent citizens from recording police or government activity. Yondr might not be as cutting-edge, but it has far fewer implications for widespread freedom of speech.
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