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Nanotube Paint Blocks Cell Phones on Demand 679

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the special-hell-for-people-who-talk-at-the-theater dept.
Kozar_The_Malignant writes "Newsday is reporting on a new nanotube paint that is able to block cell phone signals on demand. The nanotubes are filled with copper, suspended in paint, and can be applied to the walls and ceiling of places such as concert halls, churches, and classrooms."
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Nanotube Paint Blocks Cell Phones on Demand

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  • Cool but (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:05PM (#14828303) Homepage
    That's cool, but where do you get the tiny little paintbrushes?
  • "Nothing for you to hear here. Please move along."

    Thank GOD. But I still think the best option is to just dump a can of this paint on the offenders and then light them on fire.

    Much more direct. And you don't have to listen to them yap to the person next to them about how their cell phone isn't working.
  • Illegal? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:06PM (#14828319) Homepage
    At least in the USA, cell phone jammers [globalgadgetuk.com] are illegal. Because this paint isn't emitting signals to accomplish the same purpose, could it be legal?
    • Why wouldn't it be? Its a purely passive method of damping.

      When I was a kid I helped my father build a corrugated tin shed. My brother tried to use his cell phone in it over christmas and found no signal. There have been no charges laid in connection with the construction of the shed.
      • Re:Illegal? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by XxtraLarGe (551297)
        "Why wouldn't it be? Its a purely passive method of damping."

        Your problem is that you're trying to apply reason to the issue. This is completely irrelevant when it comes to the law. In many jurisdictions, it's illegal to own a "bullet-proof" vest, because obviously the only reason you would want it is if you're planning to do something illegal.

        Don't you see, if it blocks cell phones, then it could also block other transmitting waves, such as bugs or undercover wired polizei. Anybody who wants to try and s

        • This isn't a jammer. Jammers jam, meaning that they transmit or broadcast competing radio signals that effectively wash out the signal of interest. Blocking a signal is NOT jamming, and there are no prohibitions in any US law that I've ever seen (I've looked) that govern the blocking of signals.

          So, this is a painted-on Faraday cage, then?
    • From the article, the cell company representative says it's illegal, but the company that makes the paint says it isn't.

      Which figures of course, but isn't an answer either.
      • From the article, the cell company representative says it's illegal,

        If the cell company rep's lips were moving when he said that, that's prima facie evidence that it's legal.

    • Not really. It's like the difference between yelling really really loud and wearing ear plugs.
    • It is illegal to jam (cause harmful RF interference). But this isn't jamming. It's just the application of a material that radio waves find difficult to penetrate.

      You have no guaranteed right to pass radio waves through the walls of my business. I'm certainly not allowed to broadcast my own radio waves just to mess with your own, but that's not what's happening here.
    • There is nothing illegal about passive material or even designing a building that will block cell phone signals as long as they don't produce any signals on their own. Where the FCC would come into play is if these fibers were somehow transmitting an active jamming signal. I'm sure that the FCC's main concern is that active jamming might jam more than just its intended target. I can't say that I disagree with that concern.

      Someone else mentioned a Faraday cage, which might be great to implement with ne
  • Can I get a hat made of it?
  • Really cool.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kutsal (514445)
    I would want to see warning signs posted at key places in buildings where this paint is used though... And a phone number to which I can forward my cell phone when I'm inside this building as well.

    Because..

    The very first time I miss an emergency call because of this paint, I will be suing both the building and the company that made the paint. I might even sue the guy who applied the paint on the walls..

    Some people RELY on their cell phones' ability to receive calls...
    • Some people RELY on their cell phones' ability to receive calls...

      Like doctors
      • Re:Really cool.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Erioll (229536)
        Yes but by the same measure a Doctor that is on-call doesn't go mountain climbing and is 2 days away from civilization. All this means is that if you have additional responsibilities, you can't do certain things.

        What do you think these people did BEFORE cell phones? No different with this thing, except it's only a FEW places where they are restricted from going, rather than being stuck at home.
      • without a backup. As mentioned by lots of other respondents, RF reception can be affected by any number of external factors, and you'd never know unless you continuously checked your phone's received signal strength indication. Does your phone alert you when it goes into "no service"? No? Better sue the phone maker for putting you at risk of being without a lifeline... or else read your service contract, and the phone's manual, carefully. If you need 100% communication reliability with someone, better stay
        • "Does your phone alert you when it goes into "no service"? No?"

          Actually mine does. It beeps, and it beeps again when I get service.

          But most of what you said is true. This guy must be rich from all the lawsuits he's had against contractors. I've been in plenty of buildings where I'll loose service.
      • Sounds like a good excuse to weasel out of going to church.

        "but honey, what if a patient needs me?"
    • Well you would notice your meter dropping significantly, there are many buildings that because of their structure block cell phones even now. So if you currently work on the assumption that you can go anywhere in your cell range and be able to receive calls no matter what, you may be in for a rough time without this paint.
    • Just don't go in the theatre/church/classroom. You don't have a right to cell phone reception on private property.
      • Just don't go in the theatre/church/classroom. You don't have a right to cell phone reception on private property.

        No, but doctors have relied on communications devices for years. My dad carried a beeper in the 1970s and 80s, then got a cell phone (the big car-only kind) in the mid-80s along with the beeper, and switched to a cell only in the 90s. In many small towns like the one we grew up in, there are only 1-2 specialists of some types, so he was basically always on call.

        Even in larger cities, if one of
    • Not just receive emergency calls - what if the guy next to you has a heart attack, and you can't call 911?
    • In a cinema there are often hundreds of people. The chance that at least one person out of those hundreds has an 'emergency' during the length of a movie is significant. This means that any time I see a movie I have to endure a significant chance of it being ruined because of someone else's problem. No thanks. If you're worried about emergencies DON'T WATCH MOVIES OR GO TO CONCERTS. It's as simple as that. You can wait for the DVD or buy the CD instead.
      • People are on call for various *legitimate* reasons.

        If something comes up where they need/want to be unavailable, like say a concert, etc. they trade off with somebody else and TURN THE PAGER/PHONE OFF.

        There just aren't any cases I can think of where somebody needs to be "available" 24/7/365 and disrupting public gatherings.

    • Re:Really cool.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordNimon (85072) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:16PM (#14828473)
      You'd get nowhere in that lawsuit.

      Cell phones are inherently unreliable, and the cell phone company itself makes no guarantee that your phone will work at any given time or any given place. Would you sue the cell phone company every time your phone fails to ring? Of course not.

      People like you suck.

    • "The very first time I miss an emergency call because of this paint, I will be suing both the building and the company that made the paint. I might even sue the guy who applied the paint on the walls..
      Some people RELY on their cell phones' ability to receive calls... "


      That's fine. But don't sue because you chose to enter an area where cell phone use is disabled -- you have no universal right to cell phone coverage, and BS lawsuits are a waste of MY money as a taxpayer.

      If you rely on your cell phone,
    • How about this - the theater gives you a vibrate-only pager to which you forward your calls (or even to which their conduit automatically routes your calls.) So if you REALLY need to be in touch you can be, but without annoying people around you. And you have to leave the theater to actually talk.

      • So if you REALLY need to be in touch you can be, but without annoying people around you. And you have to leave the theater to actually talk.

        Right, because having some on-call asshat get up in the middle of the movie and climb over me, stepping on my feet and mumbling apologies during the big fight scene/car chase/lover's reunion isn't annoying at all.

      • How about this - if you're in a theatre, you don't communicate with ANYONE. Sit your ass down and watch the movie, and shut up unless you're the only person in the room. Who remembers watching a movie just three years ago? Like it better back then? You must have - cells weren't commonplace then, and people had the decency to turn them off/leave them home/vibrate mode if *nothing* else before sitting down at the theatre.

        If you're in a position where you need to be able to be contacted 24/7, going to a

      • And then they jack up ticket prices to $15 to cover the cost of the pagers on top of already ridiculous (with a few exceptions) prices.
    • It is precisely this kind of arrogance that ruin the movie/concert-going experience.

      Let's remember: one person's freedom ends where the neighbor's starts. You have as much right to receive your calls as I have the right to enjoy a concert-play-movie, or listen to, or even give, a conference.

      The key here would be the warnings: every place has a code of conduct. When you buy a ticket or enroll in a conference, you accept a, let's call it "EULA": by entering the premises, you accept to have your cell phone blo

    • I assume that you actively sue the: city, state, federal gov, architect, construction company and blue collar construction workers when you step in an elevator inside a government building. You also must go after mother nature during certain weather storms, or for allowing trees to grow too tall. Let me make it very, very clear to you: YOU CAN NOT RELY ON A WIRELESS DEVICE (INCLUDING A PAGER), and you should be smacked up side the head in a court room if you try to bring something in this frivilous.
    • In that case, I'm going to sue NBC because their skyscraper screws up my cell phone signal when I go to my favorite park bench.

      4. Profit!
    • The very first time I miss an emergency call because of this paint, I will be suing both the building and the company that made the paint. I might even sue the guy who applied the paint on the walls..

      If you need to be able to receive emergency calls at all times, then you need to make sure your phone has reception everywhere you go. The world does not owe you the right to get a call at any time.

    • What rights do you have in someone else's building? What rights does the owner of the building have?

      If I own a building and do not want cell phones to work within my building, who are you to tell me that I have to?

      I agree that a posted sign would be nice, but the owner doesn't owe you a number for you to forward calls to. The owner has the right to the building, and you have the right not to enter.

      If you really need to be connected to your cell phone at all times, stand under a cell tower. There isn't an
  • ...as long as the areas where cell phones are blocked are clearly marked as dead areas. It's something that you really need to know if you're on call.
    • Why should it be any different from a place that naturally has a cellular dead spot? The end result is the same, regardless of the reason. The only difference is that people won't whine to have a blocker disabled if they know that the signal is being jammed.
  • This nano technology may indeed be a trillion dollar business like the article claims, but it's going to have to get the blessing of the FCC to be usable here in the US. If not, it'll be relelgated to backrooms of spy shops like all the other cell phone blocking technology already present.
    • by TimeTrav (460837)
      Um, no. Since it is a passive method, this is not and will not be regulated. You can acheive a similar effect by putting a layer of copper shielding in your wall.

      The novelty here is that it can be enabled and disabled at will.
    • What does it have to do with the FCC? This is completely passive and emits no signal. I'm allowed to build a Faraday cage around my own house if I so desire. The only thing different here is the ability to switch the cage on and off.
    • by lintocs (723324)
      The FCC can't kill this, as it doesn't transmit anything to anywhere, it's not even a powered device (persay). For example, if a builder decides to line the walls of his building with lead to achieve the same result, tough luck cell user. If an interior designer likes chromium (and they did in the '20s) and builds a lobby that is in essence a Faraday box, tough luck BlackBerry.

      Personally, I like the idea of creating a domestic space where I'm not being bombarded by microwave energy, around the clock. Just b
  • by Joe5678 (135227)
    The "On Demand" portion seems to be a hack. The paint does block the wireless signals. For you to "turn off" the paint though requires that you capture the wireless signals outside the protected area and then rebroadcast them inside.

    Not exactly "On Demand".
  • Yeah, the calls will be silenced during the show, but when intermission comes, all those pent up calls notify the all the phones of waiting voice mails at one time. As soon as the signal is allowed through a bunch of phones all ring at once and everybody starts talking at once.
  • I am totally going to paint my bedroom with this stuff.
  • Perhaps airplanes [slashdot.org] could use a little nanotube paint as well?
  • The new asbestos? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:16PM (#14828469)
    There may be some serious health risks [jnanobiotechnology.com] associated with nanotubes and other small particles. Hopefully the companies involved do thorough health risk assessments before putting it up everywhere.
    • Asbestos is safe when the fibers are immobilised (nicely packaged and nobody stirring them up). Handling "asbestcement" roof tiles is safe as long as you don't break them: You don't want free asbestos fibers roaming around in the air you breath.
      Nanotube paint will be safe once the paint has dried. (Organic solvents are not healthy!) I'ld suggest that painters were protective masks when sanding away the paint, because it is unknown what the health effects are. Mineral wools that chemically look a lot like a
  • I don't think copper by itself is carcinogenic, but what about nanotubes? What happens when you need to sand down the wall?
  • nanotechnology, the emerging science of harnessing sub-microscopic organisms for everyday use

    And I should pay any attention to the rest of the article because ...?

    For what it's worth, the article also claims that the:

    paint relies on the wizardry of nanotechnology to create a system that locks out unwanted cell phone signals on demand

    This would be remarkable and is not true. Actually (from later on in the article), the company will:

    combine this signal-blocking paint scheme with a radio-filtering devi

  • people went out, doctors went out, parents went out, and we did ok.

    last Sunday in church (spare me the religion debate) a cell phone rang while the priest was consecrating the host. Jesus was pissed.

    if people could be trusted to turn them to vibrate this sort of thing wouldn't even be on the drawing board. but people suck.

  • You know, i'd have much fewer people pointing at my shiny hat.

    just trying to keep the Liberal Media out!
  • I'm thinking this might be useful in other ways:
    • Applying it on your car, to foil radar guns
    • Using it in offices to keep wireless signals from escaping (I know it's not quite the same thing, but close)

    As to people who need their cell phones (parents with children, brain sugeons, etc.), use a system like you have at restaurants that use the wireless pagers. They would be tuned to work inside the building; someone dials a number or goes online, sends a message to the theatre, church, whatever, and it's r

  • no-can-do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by engagebot (941678) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:21PM (#14828533)
    What we really need is people with common sense/courtesy. Don't have an obnoxious ringtone. Don't talk on the phone in a movie theatre, etc.

    My situation: I've got to wear a hospital pager 24/7. New movie theatre with signal-jamming capability? I can't go. Sure, I've got sense enough to keep it on vibrate, but i'm the minority. We have to resort to actually crippling the devices to keep people from being idiots.
    • " We have to resort to actually crippling the devices to keep people from being idiots."

      and this is new how?

      cell phones already come crippled in some cases (verizon, cingular, all at fault). windows definatly is crippled. cars have been known to be crippled by revlimiting and seed limiting.

      i'd rather have crippling to prevent idiothood then crippling to get a better profit.

      Han is my Hero (and did shoot the green smelly guy first. )
  • But what happens when there's a disaster (earthquake, hurricane, explosion, etc) and people get trapped in said facility? Or there's an emergency, like someone breaking their arm or having a heartattack?

    How do you call for help? How do you let people know you're in there?

    Blocking a means of emergency communications should be illegal. Especially with something that can't be turned off.

    Sure, cell phones are a disturbance and a distraction, but they're not a danger to society or anything close to being an epid
  • by TopSpin (753) *
    The cynic in me envisions a trial lawyer engaging the survivors of people killed in a theater fire, cell phone in hand...

  • Because of cell phones, 24/7 reachability has become the rule, rather than the exception. This has extended to the business world, where many employees are virtually on call 24/7. In some cases, this is minor, but in others, it can be critical. Emergency responders such as doctors and nurses, senior IT folks (such as myself, when I'm on call), and others keep their cells on them and can still have something of a life rather than stay at home and wait for the home.

    Being denied the ability to do this would
  • by pz (113803) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:33PM (#14828691) Journal
    What's the big deal here? The paint is conductive. The conductivity cannot be switched on and off, but by reading between the lines of TFA, they have an antenna inside the faraday cage which can selectively provide connectivity to the outside world. You can do the same thing with copper mesh (and I have, to make ultra-quiet recordings of microvolt biological signals) to create an entire room that is a faraday cage.

    The only thing newsworthy is that this paint contains nanotechnology. Sure, that's nice. But the summary and title are misleading: The paint blocks, always. The additional antenna blocks on demand, and there's nothing special there.
    • > What's the big deal here? The paint is conductive. The conductivity cannot be switched on and off, but by reading between the lines of TFA, they have an antenna inside the faraday cage which can selectively provide connectivity to the outside world. You can do the same thing with copper mesh (and I have, to make ultra-quiet recordings of microvolt biological signals) to create an entire room that is a faraday cage.

      In other words, all this hype about nanotube copper paint is just a TEMPEST in a teapot

  • It is also another breakthrough application of nanotechnology, the emerging science of harnessing sub-microscopic organisms (emphasis added) for everyday uses

    Someone's been watching a little too much Star Trek...

    Now if they could come up with a nanopaint that would cause the cell phone's backlight to not turn on...

    (From someone who's been to too many movies lately where some lus3r decided they wanted to check their text messages or play brickout or whatever during the movie.)

  • by Lumpy (12016)
    Rustolium has a product that is magnetic paint [flecto.com] that has the same effect.

    I painted my daughter's room with it and it dropped the Cellphone signal in the room to barely useable. if I painted the door and replaced the screens with aluminum I am sure it would block almost all the signal.

    Why wait for this high tech stuff t hat will cost hundreds of dollars when you can use a product that exists now. Heck copper bearing paint that is electrically conductive has also been around for years that does this job as
  • More and more information is coming to light that materials that are normally harmless can be extremely hazardous when distributed on a nanoparticle scale. Quoting from a recent Washington Post article [washingtonpost.com]:

    Animal studies have shown that at least some can cause deadly airway blockages or can migrate from nasal passages into the brain and other organs, where they may cause metabolic problems. Other studies suggest they can trigger environmental damage that would be difficult to reverse once the minuscule part

  • RFID blocker (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idonthack (883680) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:57PM (#14828976)
    Could this be a way to block RFID signals? Wear clothes or a sticker made of this stuff over an embedded tag and people only see the signal when you press a button.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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