A new patent application filed by Microsoft would give parents ultimate, absolute control over their children’s smartphones and tablets. Indeed, Big Brother is watching…but in a kind and loving way. As the mobile market expands, so does the amount of people with devices. More and more children are getting their hands on smartphones and tablets and Microsoft wants to appeal to parents seeking ways to monitor and control what their child uses their smartphone for.
Microsoft’s new patent application n.20130225152, revealed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states that parents could be able to use a centralized dashboard to monitor and set restrictions on a mobile device. All parents want to keep their children safe and sound, but with the advent of new technology the children of today are more independent than times past, so this type of technology could be really useful to parents.
The patent application says that the software could be used to set restrictions including use overnight, or set a phone so it can only call parents, a “white list” of contacts or emergency numbers. This type of “lock screen” can be kept in place for a time period, depending on the controller. Certain aspects of the phone that could be disabled include browsers, social network applications, games, text messaging and email. These restrictions can be permanent or set depending on time and location.
The patent says that the dashboard can include “a visual summary of an individual family member’s phone usage, history, restrictions, settings etc. This information was brought to light by Geekwire. Furthermore, the parent dashboard allows the family control member to set restrictions, grant accesses, and allocate information to the other family members in a family group.”
If you are the bill payer, the dashboard will also notify you when children go over their text and call allowances, and in response, you can automatically lock their device. Children are smart. I mean really, really switched on and in some cases know more than their parents about how mobile technology works. Fortunately the patent also describes a feature which lets parents know if they are being taken for a ride: The parent dashboard can also be implemented to display the last changes and/or setting adjustments to the dashboard itself, so that for example, if a kid changes the parent dashboard on a hub member’s phone device, the parent will be able to detect the changed settings. The parent dashboard may be implemented for viewing with an additional level of security on the authoritative, parent’s phone device, such as by biometric detection or by entering a different access code used to lockout access to the parent dashboard.
Interesting to note, this type of patent, if accepted and used by Microsoft, is not restricted to parent-child relationships. “It should be readily apparent that this relationship may also be utilized for a variety of other similar controlling device/controlled device implementations,” the patent reads. “These could include employer/employee, teacher/student, and so on. Also, techniques described herein could be used for self-imposed, self-controlling quieting of a user’s own mobile devices.” Maybe Big Brother is watching after all.
[Image via neowin]