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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

S.F. Music Venues Use New Technology to Disable Cellphones at Shows

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 12:55 PM

click to enlarge Now you can act like a drunk fool without any worry - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Now you can act like a drunk fool without any worry
Whether you know it or not, you're probably the subject, if not the background, of one too many images and videos shot by strangers via smartphone at concerts and other public places. 

If you're really unlucky, those images and videos have been uploaded somewhere for the world to witness. If that bothers you a bit, keep reading.

A new piece of technology has arrived in San Francisco which makes it impossible now for strangers to snap photos and record videos of you in designated spaces. Dubbed "Yondr", the easy-to-use technology is already making its rounds in various venues in San Francisco and Oakland, including the Stork Club in the Uptown.  
Graham Dugoni, founder of Yondr, says it's pretty simple: people will be handed a form-fitting case that slides into their phone. The case locks when the user enters the designated phone-free zone at the venue. Event goers can keep their phones on them, but they won't be able to text or snap photos while in the designated "phone-free zone" at venues, thus stripping away their ability to annoy everyone around them.

"They have the phone in their pocket, but it's locked so if the phone vibrates they can step outside to text or call," Dugoni tells us. 

Before stepping outside to use the phone, the user will tap their phone on the unlocking mechanism by the door, granting them access to their phone again. Once they come back inside, the phone will lock.  If a venue chooses to use the technology, it's not optional for patrons; sure you could smuggle your cellphone in your underwear and use it at the show, but if you're caught, you'll be booted from the venue, Dugoni says. 

"The goal isn't to be the Gestapo," Dugoni says. "Technology is fine but in certain contexts, it erodes the experience."

Specifically, it erodes privacy. Even in public, being able to engage in private moments is sacred and needs to be better preserved. This is one way of ensuring your idiotic drunk dance isn't tomorrow's YouTube hit. Right now, Dugoni's focus is on music venues and festivals, but that's not to say you won't have to "lock" your phone upon entering restaurants sometime in the near future. 

Correction: An earlier version of this stated that Milk Bar was using this technology. Manager Erik Ross says the bar it's not using Yondr.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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