Celebrities looking for a way to combat those pesky paparazzi that doesn’t involve fisticuffs and a less than flattering mug shot will want to hope this new "anti-paparazzi device" makes the jump from concept to commercial availability. The concept is basically an LED flash built into a clutch purse that emits a photo ruining flash of its own when it detects the flash from a camera.

The device uses a photo cell that reads light to detect jumps in ambient light caused by camera flashes. Currently the photo cell can detect a flash being fired from up to a 45 degree angle each way. This is connected to a computer-programmable micro-controller, which controls three small LED lights that flash for 1/15th of a second and wash out the photograph.

New York University graduate student Adam Harvey originally developed the device as a way to combine his interest in photography with a physical computing class project. He wasn’t able to perfect the device for class, but has continued to refine the design so that currently the wiring and batteries fit in a ladies clutch. It is activated by powering it on and then tilting the clutch, meaning you can control whether you want the flash to go off or not with a tilt of the wrist.

Since that’s great for the ladies, but not so great for your average male action movie star, Harvey aims to reduce the size of the device further so that it could be worn on something as small as a pendant or tiepin.

The device works up to ISO 800 at f/4 and its use is therefore limited to low light situations such as night or inside. It will work at shutter speeds up to 1/125, but is much more effective on low light shots with long shutter speeds.

Harvey is continuing to refine the design of the anti-paparazzi device and is currently working on a patent for it. He has announced a limited release of the clutch bag will become available in early Spring 2010.

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