March 21, 2012, 3:18 PM — There are some ideas – especially in the tech world – that are so unbelievably cool it's impossible to ignore them even though the ideas themselves are so unbelievably bad it's impossible to believe anyone would ever try to use one.
Nokia has just promoted itself to the top of that pile by patenting a new technique that could make it far simpler to use your mobile phone on the move, as long as you choose only the version with the much shorter life expectancy.
I can't believe it took five days for this to work its way up through the datasphere, but Unwired View ran a piece March 15 exposing Nokia's application for patents on tattoos that provide haptic feedback for cell phones.
Rather than leave your phone in your pocket and hope you notice it vibrating when a call comes in, Nokia is trying to patent a method of using magnetic ink that, when injected under the skin in an aesthetically pleasing pattern, make your tattoo vibrate when the phone rings.
The ferromagnetic ink is designed to vibrate in response to a magnetic field, but can be implemented in a way that would let it respond only to specific magnetic fields or signals.
<(a href="http://www.patexia.com/feed/ferrofluid-tattoos-vibrate-your-skin-in-response-to-calls-and-texts-3400" target="_blank">Yes, it's possible; no, it's not a good idea.)
Paired with a phone or other device in the same way a Bluetooth headset would be, the tattoo would become a ringer that would almost certainly get the attention of anyone owning one and would never be left behind or forgotten.
Of course, it would also not be flawless. It would inevitably responde erroneously to magnetic fields from other people's phones, at least occasionally, as well as magnetic fields from other sources.
The urban myth that tattoo ink already contains enough metal that they become excruciatingly hot or actually are pulled through the skin when their owners go into the powerful magnetic field of an MRI imaging machine, for example (the myth is false), has a much higher chance of actually happening if the tattoo is as much gadget as sketch.
It would be possible to pair the tat with more than one device, so you wouldn't have to have it removed and get another inscribed every time you replace your phone.
That would give it a somewhat longer life span than if it worked only with current generation of cell phones.
But tattoos hang around far longer than even major iterations of mobile communications technology.