Can laser damage cell phone camera? Understand the controversy of the Alok show


A spectator at Alok’s concert at Rock in Rio reported on Twitter that lasers had damaged his cell phone camera. The post, which went viral, has a photo of the presentation that took place on Friday (3), with the caption “Last photo before Alok’s laser burns my iPhone camera. What a hate”.

The artist talked about it in a video on TikTok. He says the beams of light can actually burn out the cell phone camera, which is why the lights are pointed up during the show.

“Otherwise I would burn the entire party’s cell phone and then it would be a gigantic loss,” he said. “So that’s it, fake news. Unless he was on the zipline, right.”

Alok’s team declared that the entire structure of the show was previously tested and approved by Organs competent bodies. “The beams of the laser cannons were angled above the audience level which prevented direct contact with the eye retina or cell phone cameras.”

He also said that the direction of the lights must ensure the security of the event’s broadcast cameras and that reports that lasers would have damaged some electronic devices were possibly “an internet joke”.

Vinicius Wenzel, owner of the company responsible for the lasers at the Alok show, says he believes the post was a joke. He claims that, by default, the laser is pointed above people’s heads, because otherwise strong light can burn the camera’s pixels.

For Lázaro Padilha, a professor at Unicamp’s Physics Institute, although it is possible that this has happened, it is unlikely. This is because it depends on factors such as laser power, time of direct exposure of the camera sensor to the beam, and distance from the user.

“As the lens deflects the light beam towards the camera’s sensors, it can burn some pixels. The contact of light with the components generates heat, and the heat damages”, he said.

The use of the color green, as happened in the show, for example, is a way of lighting more with less power — the human eye is more sensitive to this frequency than the red one.

For instant contact with the laser to burn the camera of a cell phone, it would need to be more powerful, which could bring discomfort to human eyes. But if the user was close to the equipment and using the device’s zoom, the probability of damage is greater.

Apple, the maker of the iPhone, and the author of the post did not respond as of the publication of this report.

Xiaomi reported that outdoors or indoors, when there is an extremely strong light source, there is a possibility of damage to the smartphone’s camera sensor.

Samsung has not commented, but the Galaxy S22 manual recommends not exposing the camera lens to very intense light sources, such as direct sunlight. “It is not possible to repair a damaged image sensor, and photos will show spots or smudges,” the document says.

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