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The Associated Press is reporting that a small chip from NXP Semiconductor (Philips’ former chip business) plus a technology from Kestrel Wireless could be used to unlock DVDs, another attempt by Hollywood to secure content.

The technology would work as follows: after the disc is “bought,” an RF signal would be sent to the chip, which would then activate a sensitive portion of the disc. The AP story’s a bit light on the technology, so here’s what Kestrel says:

Basically, each disc would ship with an “optical shutter”. “The optical shutter is an electro-optic device less than 1/100th the thickness of a human hair. When the disc leaves the factory, the shutter is closed, thus preventing the player’s laser from reading the content stored in the disc. At the POS, which can be at the retailer or via mobile phone, the shutter is switched open and the disc is made readable – and valuable – again.”

Kestrel says it can use the technology to secure other consumer devices, such as razors (?!). On the plus side, the company says its technology would help eliminate the need-a-chainsaw-to-open blister packs.


Smacks a bit of DIVX, the horrible degrading format that Circuit City championed before it bit the dust a few years ago, doesn’t it? Somehow I suspect that even if these Kestrel discs were released into the wild, they’d still have the DRM software built in, giving consumers two points of potential failure and frustration.


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