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Google is working on adding electronic privacy screen support to Chrome OS

This nifty privacy feature already exists on some Windows laptops.


What you need to know

  • Google is adding support for electronic privacy screens to Chrome OS.
  • The change was discovered in a Chromium commit this month.
  • The feature is said to debut in “upcoming Chromebooks.”

Chromebooks may be gaining support for electronic privacy screens in an upcoming update later this year. A privacy screen is a screen accessory that essentially reduces display visibility from any angle other than dead-on, and it prevents people from peeking at your screen when working on private data in public. Electronic privacy screens basically do the same, albeit it’s built directly into the computer’s own display.

While some Windows laptops have shipped with electronic privacy screens, no Chromebook has. This is due to the lack of built-in support in the lightweight operating system, at least for now. Google is adding support for electronic privacy screens to Chrome OS, as per an addition to the Chromium codebase (via Chrome Story).

The code commit reads:

Chrome OS: Add key code for privacy screen toggle

Some upcoming Chromebooks will have an electronic privacy screen which can be toggled on or off via a hotkey. When this key is pressed Linux will emit a KEY_PRIVACY_SCREEN_TOGGLE keycode 0x279. There is not currently a USB HID usage for privacy screen control but there is a request in progress and is expected to be in the 0x300 range of the consumer page. We use the next available device DomKey 0x60C and the next unused VKEY 0x9B.

While it’s not entirely certain which OEM will be building in an electronic privacy screen, we can hazard a guess. Over on the Windows side, HP has added its Sure View electronic privacy screen technology to some of its laptops. Given that HP also makes Chromebooks, and considering the recent influx of premium clamshells from ASUS and Samsung, it’s certainly a possibility we’ll be seeing a Sure View-equipped Chromebook later this year.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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