Dell's automatic webcam shutter is genius and every other laptop should steal it

Dell has a whole bunch of new laptops and desktop computers in the mix this year, and at least one tiny, yet highly innovative new feature. The feature was announced this week on the Dell Latitude 9420 and 9520, two laptops with what might at first appear to be a standard webcam. But this webcam has an automatic shutter called SafeShutter.

The feature called SafeShutter allows the user to know when they've got a camera pointed at them, and when the camera is safely put away. Unlike most other webcams, this webcam is hidden most of the time. When a video conferencing program calls upon the webcam to activate, its physical shield is removed, and it is allowed to see.

Dell suggested this week that SafeShutter is the "industry's first automatic webcam shutter. Per Dell, this webcam know when to automatically open or close "by syncing with your video conferencing applications, so you can work securely and confidently from anywhere." Not that you should inherently worry that a webcam is always watching you – but it's not the worst worry to have about a machine that's in front of you for 8 hours a day.

These new Dell laptops also have their own "secure mic and mute keys" as any good laptop should. It's always good to know, for certain, that you're not being recorded by the machine you trust to work with for the vast majority of your waking hours.

The idea that a laptop webcam can physically hide itself at the times at which you'd normally expect it to deactivate – that's smart. That's something that should be a basic function of every camera, really. Every camera on the front or back of any machine should have the ability to cover its lens on command – we're looking at you, smartphone companies.