Cloud // Cloud Storage
Commentary
3/21/2012
08:54 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz

How do you feel about attaching a small membrane to your skin that vibrates when your phone receives incoming calls or messages?

According to a recently uncovered patent filed by Nokia, the company wants to be among the first to turn human beings into cyborgs. The patent is for what amounts to a vibrating tattoo.

The patent application describes "a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field." The material would react to magnetic signals emitted by a nearby electronic device, such as a smartphone. It would offer some sort of micro vibration, and could be set to certain vibrating patterns. The idea is to provide you with a more direct way to notice when you're receiving some sort of incoming device alert, whether it be a phone call, email, or text message.

The patent was applied for in September 2011 and will likely never be realized in real-life, but the concept raises some interesting ideas.

[ What makes Apple's new iPad tick? See New iPad Teardown: Inside Apple's Tablet. ]

First, why go this far? Obviously, Nokia feels (pun intended) that the way in which we currently receive notifications isn't getting the job done. Think for a moment how many calls, messages, or other alerts you've missed when you were out and about. Even with your phone set to maximum volume with the vibrate alert on, it is easy to miss alerts in noisy environments such as trade show floors, city streets, or in moving vehicles.

There's a much better chance you'll notice that your skin, rather than something in your blazer pocket, is vibrating. In terms of practicality, such an concept could in fact help us better notice our smartphones or other devices.

But second, what does this idea tell us about our society? Is it that important to receive smartphone alerts that we'd attach or embed a micro-electrical machine on/in our skin? To me, it crosses the line.

We already spend a huge percentage of our day staring at screens, whether they be computers, smartphones, tablets, or TVs. Going so far as to embed technology into our skin so we don't miss text messages would take away an element of our humanity. It would rob us of the present. We'd become even more addicted to our technology than we already are. Society is in enough danger of succumbing to the temptation to check our phones every five minutes. This would only accelerate people's need for a fix.

Pavlov would spin right out of his grave.

It doesn't take much imagination to think of all the places in which vibrating skin would be inappropriate or distracting in an impolite or even dangerous way.

To Nokia, I say, "Neat, but no thanks."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
CentralScrutinizer01
50%
50%
CentralScrutinizer01,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/23/2012 | 1:20:29 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
I think you grossly underestimate our society. I predict that if this ever comes about, people will be standing in line at midnight in an effort to be among the first to be tattooed.
EVVJSK
50%
50%
EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2012 | 6:42:55 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
Nokia probably just wanted to patent it before Apple claimed to have patented it and then sued Google for it down the road! That(the need to be first to patent something/anything even if you can't/don't bring it to market first) tells me much more about our society than if someone wants to put something minor on their scene to get/receive notice (i.e. lipstick, blush, eye liner, etc...) !
Sajar
50%
50%
Sajar,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2012 | 9:21:02 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
I suppose it does depend entirely on what you imagine when they say 'attached' to the skin. Personally I can't imagine them hamstringing themselves with a surgical/permanent only system. It will be interesting to see what they come up with!

I do think your idea for a bluetooth ring or bracelet is excellent though, if they could keep the weight down and make charging less of a pain than it is with many bluetooth devices, and certainly an easier engineering challenge than the magnetic field Nokia mention. Utilising bluetooth would also mean it would be compatible with a lot more devices than whatever proprietary system Nokia would roll out.
BrainiacV
50%
50%
BrainiacV,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2012 | 7:29:50 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
What about tattooing your finger tips for tactile feedback for teleoperated equipment?
DRuffer
50%
50%
DRuffer,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2012 | 6:46:15 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
Personally, I don't think tattoos are a good idea either. However, if you don't have a problem with the die used in tattoos, then this doesn't sound much more invasive. Considering all the other forms of body modifications that people are doing these days, I suspect that this will be very popular and vibrating is the least that they will do with the concept. It certainly is better than patting my phone every time I hear someone's ring.
MFWills
50%
50%
MFWills,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2012 | 5:41:24 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
Eric, I'm with you. Too much.

Safar, none of the devices you mention (Bluetooth headsets, wrist watches, headphones, exercise heart rate monitors. etc., etc., etc.) are permanently attached, and bear absolutely no resemblance to what Nokia is proposing. In fact, a Bluetooth-connected wristwatch (better, a bracelet or maybe a ring of some sort) that vibrated when a call came in would be interesting

While I am not inclined to have anything attached (embedded, anchored, etc.) to my body, one question I have is whether this Nokia device would work with other brands, or is it a ploy to make brand loyalty more attractive? Would the thought of having the thing removed if you switched to Samsung make you think differently about switching?
Sajar
50%
50%
Sajar,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2012 | 3:07:14 PM
re: Nokia's Vibrating Tattoo: A Bad Buzz
" Is it that important to receive smartphone alerts that we'd attach or embed a micro-electrical machine on/in our skin? To me, it crosses the line"

Just curious as to what you think of Bluetooth headsets, wrist watches, headphones, exercise heart rate monitors, and any other "micro-electrical machine" that you can see attached to peoples skin pretty much everywhere these days? Do you shudder in revulsion that these people could have dared to place electronic devices against their bare skin?

As far as I can tell, Nokia's technology would be easiest to implement as a kind of temporary 'transfer' tattoo, rather than any sort of permanent attachment, which hardly requires the same level of vehemence directed at "embedded" technology turning us into "cyborgs".
Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July 22, 2014
Sophisticated attacks demand real-time risk management and continuous monitoring. Here's how federal agencies are meeting that challenge.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.