HP Adds Visual Security to Its Business Laptops

On-Demand Privacy Filters Offered as Option to Select HP Laptops

HP Sure View Privacy Filter Prevents Visual Hacking
©HP, Inc.

Often times we don't think about what other people can see on our mobile devices as we use them. In fact, when shopping for laptops, tablets or smartphones, we often are looking for a screen that can be seen in just about any direction. This lets us share that screen with other people or use the device when it is positioned awkwardly because it is the only place we have to put it.

Most people just do not think about what they do on their devices that involve security. We use our devices to connect to a wide variety of systems and services. Whether it is online banking of just viewing our Facebook feeds, that is on display for anyone that has the ability to view our screens. In fact, it is relatively easy for someone to look over the shoulder of an individual to potentially learn a username and password to a system. Such a security risk can have major consequences if they are able to get into something such as an online bank account. Newer security measures such as two-factor authentication and biometrics help, but the majority of users still use plan usernames and passwords. Display privacy filters are one way to help reduce the risk of this information being viewed by others.

For years, companies like 3M have offered privacy filters. These were essentially polarized filters or films that were placed over your display to narrow the viewing angle so that unless you were looking dead on at the screen, the image would be blacked out. With films that are applied to the display, they are always on making it difficult for the screens to be shared which can be a major pain at times. These films are also nearly impossible to remove and reapply to try and remove it for a period of time. Filters that can be placed over the screen offer the ability to used as needed but they are extremely inconvenient when it comes to traveling as the frames can easily be cracked and it is yet another item to have to carry.

HP has teamed up with 3M to develop a new system called Sure View on some of its ​​EliteBook laptops. It differs from the older filters and films as it is integrated into the display of the screen. At first, this might seem no different than having a privacy film installed on top of the display but the Sure View function can be turned on or off at the discretion of the user. With the function turned off, the display acts as normal with wide viewing angles. If the user wishes to have privacy, they can enable the Sure View function which enables the filter on the screen. At this point, the screen is darkened by up to 95% when viewed from the wider angles but those looking directly on still have a clear view.

This is only currently being offered on business or corporate laptop systems and as an option. This is because security features are generally a greater requirement for those that have to deal with secured data. This makes the Sure View feature more appealing if a business has a number of employees dealing with private data that they wish to keep that way. The issue is that the feature can be enabled or disabled by the user. This may cause some of them to not consider getting laptops without the feature unless there is a way for IT departments to force the function to always be on without the ability to it be turned off by the user. It is also unclear how much additional power this new filter might use when it is enabled. It likely will reduce the battery life but by how much is not clear.

The consumer looking for such a feature can always opt to buy a business class laptop with the feature over more traditional consumer laptops. It will be interesting to see if this feature gets applied to other applications beyond just laptops. Many consumers are now skipping using laptops in favor of smaller devices such as tablets or smartphones. Hopefully, devices with the same on demand screen privacy filters will eventually be integrated into them offering consumers and businesses additional levels of privacy and security.