If you've ever tried to get some work done in a public place, you'll know the aggravation of having people peeking over your shoulder. But HP, in collaboration with 3M, thinks it has a solution, and it's building it into forthcoming HP notebooks.

3M's privacy screen is an "on demand electronic privacy solution" built directly into the display. The technology won't be on at all times: users will have the option to switch the privacy settings on and off. The technology is intended to put an end to nosey parkers taking a peek at your workings.

3M and HP describe the technology as fighting against "visual hacking." This is when a stranger, peering at a laptop screen, can learn confidential information and potentially breach security. "Visual hacking is a growing problem and 3M is investing in technology that can stop prying eyes," said Herve Gindre, vice president and general manager at 3M.

"We're working with 3M to deliver world-class solutions that not only protect the privacy of the individual user, but also provides security for valuable company assets,"  said Alex Cho, vice president and general manager at HP. The companies cite a 3M-sponsored study into visual hacking as a reason for concern. The recent Ponemon Institute survey found that nearly 90 percent of attempts to visually steal important information were successful.

The announced partnership follows the announcement of a series of layoffs at HP last month. Between 25,000 to 30,000 jobs are to be cut as part of a major restructuring drive. The company also plans to split in two, with enterprise forming a separate company to its printer and personal computer business.