Nokia's tasty tattoo patent-troll bait

Body art would transmit pulse to wearers being contacted via their cell phones

Call it functional body art. Call it another step toward our cyborg future. Or simply call it patent-troll bait. Nokia is seeking a patent "for a tattoo that would send 'a perceivable impulse' to your skin whenever someone tries to contact you on the phone," according to the Los Angeles Times. Isn't the tingly feeling you get when your phone vibrates in your pocket enough for Nokia? That's just one question. Another is, should Nokia's patent application be approved, who's going to run out and get one of these things? One point of fact: According to the patent application, Nokia isn't just proposing a traditional tattoo. The "material attachable to skin" that would be capable of detecting a magnetic field emanating from the phone may be a "visible image, invisible image, invisible tattoo, visible tattoo, visible marking, invisible marking, visible marker, visible sign, invisible sign, visible label, invisible label, visible symbol, invisible symbol, visible badge and invisible badge." Personally, I think that's too many choices for the average consumer. If Henry Ford were CEO of Nokia, he would tell customers they could have their magnetic-field skin detectors in any form -- as long as it's black. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's get under the hood. According to Nokia, the proposed patent is based on something called "haptic technology," described as:

...a tactile feedback technology that takes advantage of a user's sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, and/or motions to the user. Tactile feedback between a user and an electronic device may be provided by mechanical vibrations and/or pulses originating from all or part of an entire electronic device. Tactile feedback may be provided for example on a display.

I see a lot of prank possibilities here. Key to magnetizing a tattoo is ferromagnetic powder, which contains iron elements and thus is receptive to magnetic waves. If this technology catches on, the first super villain to invent a portable, powerful magnet will have a field day. Remember I said that.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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