It was painful to watch, at Apple’s big media event on Monday, Steve Jobs attempting to pawn off a retread music-recommendation system as some sort of great technological breakthrough. Yes, iTunes will now be able to suggest songs you might like based on what you and other like-eared users listen to. Wow. That’s so 2002. And the company even has the gumption to call the feature Genius. A better name, if the experiences of early users are any guide, would have been Halfwit.
But that’s nothing. Today, reports New Scientist, Apple has applied for a patent to – no joke – extend digital rights management to tennis shoes and other articles of clothing. “What is desired,” the patent application says, “is a method of electronically pairing a sensor and an authorized garment.” It continues:
As used herein an authorized garment is a garment sanctioned to be electronically paired with an authenticated (i.e., certified) sensor. Once the garment and sensor are electronically paired, the sensor can receive (and in some cases process) sensing information (such as garment performance data or user performance data) received from the garment. Since only authorized garments are configured to electronically pair with authenticated sensors, a user (or manufacturer) can be assured that the sensing data received by the sensor is both accurate and consistent with its intended use (a sensor designed for use with running shoes can not properly be used with dance shoes, for example).
Apple views tennis-shoe DRM as a way to head off what it sees as a potential plague of sneaker hacking. “Some people,” the patent application observes, “have taken it upon themselves to remove the sensor from the special pocket of the [iPod-linked] Nike+ shoe and place it at inappropriate locations (shoelaces, for example) or place it on non-Nike+ model shoes.” Oh my God: Geeks are ripping the sensors out of their sneakers and sticking them on their shoelaces! Unleash the shoe nazis!
It used to be cool to be an Apple fanboy. Now it’s starting to be embarrassing.