HP tackles 'visual hacking' with privacy filters in laptop, tablet screens

HP wants to prevent Peeping Toms from stealing data with new privacy filters integrated in laptops

HP is putting integrated filters in laptop and tablet displays this year so Peeping Toms can't steal confidential information when surreptitiously viewing your screen.

HP's privacy filters will make laptop and tablet screens visible to users in direct view of the display. Moving slightly away makes what's displayed on the screen fuzzier and then virtually invisible the further you go.

Users won't be able to see a screen from a 35 degree angle on the left or right, said John Groden, director for Elitebook products at HP.

This feature could be handy in planes, airports or cafes, where sensitive information on the laptop could be visible to others.

Security is especially important to corporate users, and this technology will prevent "visual hacking," which is a growing threat, Groden said.

Pressing a button on the laptop will turn off the privacy filter and make the screen visible from wider viewing angles. That's particularly handy when multiple viewers are watching movies on a laptop.

HP's integration of a privacy film in the computer screen separates it from other technologies in the market today. Privacy filters for laptops are already available but need to be tacked on to laptop screens externally.

The internal privacy filter technology was developed in conjunction with 3M, which sells external privacy filters. The integrated privacy filter is connected to the motherboard and works with the CPU and GPU to enable it to be turned on and off. That also helps keep the color, brightness and refresh rate intact when the screen is in privacy mode. Overall, it will provide a better visual experience than external privacy filters, which can lower the brightness of a screen.

The privacy filter is non-intrusive and does not interfere with the resolution of the screen, Groden said.

The new technology could become available this year first in 14-inch laptops, which are HP's best-selling PCs. It will be a optional feature that could raise the price of a laptop. The technology will ultimately be added to more portable products later in the year, Groden said.

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