Photographer and designer Philipp Schmitt has created a concept camera called 'Camera Restricta' with a unique feature: it won't allow the user to take a picture in an area where too many other photos have been taken. The camera uses GPS to determine the photographer's location, then searches online to determine how many other photos (based on geotags) have been taken within the surrounding 35x35m region. If the number is too high, the camera will prevent photos from being snapped.

The camera gives indications whether it will allow a photo to be captured through the viewfinder and on the rear display. In the viewfinder, the image will appear with a red X overlaid if too many similar images exist. The rear display shows the number of nearby photos found. The shutter button will physically retract when it determines that too many photos have been taken at a location, and a geiger-counter-like audio signal will indicate how many photos have been taken in that area.

Such a device could also be used for censorship, Schmitt point out, if such functionality were ever built into production cameras. For example, it could be used to 'blacklist' certain subjects in accordance with copyright laws, like the recent legislation proposed (and voted down) by the European Parliament. 

The camera itself features a 3D-printed body, an ATTiny85 microcontroller and it runs an open source web app that checks Flickr and Panoramio for geo-tagged images.

Said Schmitt of his creation, 'It is a speculation on a possible new generation of cameras where the once obedient tool becomes an authority. This doesn't even have to be a physical camera you decide to buy. The functionality might as well be included in a software update, transforming your smartphone into a camera restricta.'