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Nokia Applies For Vibrating Tattoo Patent

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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You could soon receive call and text alerts via a customised piece of body art.

Nokia has filed a patent for technology which could in the future allow smartphone users to receive phone alerts via a vibrating magnetic tattoo.

The Finnish manufacturer submitted the application last week and could also have other applications such as the ability to authenticate the user’s identity.

Inked In

The patent, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes ‘tattooing’ ferromagnetic material onto a user’s skin, which is then paired with a mobile device. This material is capable of two things – detecting a magnetic field emitted by the phone when it receives an alert and causing a vibration.

The material could be applied to a person’s arm, abdominal area or finger and different variations could be used to create a range of alerts depending on whether a phone call or text message has been received or if a specific person has contacted you.

“Examples of… applications may be low battery indication, received message, received call, calendar alert, change of profile, e.g. based on timing, change of time zone, or any other,” said the filing. “The magnetic field may cause vibration of one short pulse, multiple short pulses, few long pulses… strong pulses, weak pulses and so on.”

Security of smartphones could also be improved by having such a tattoo. The magnetised material could be used to perform an identity check and could act as a password for the device as it could only be used if it detects the magnetic field emitted by the tattoo.

Last month at Mobile World Congress, Nokia unveiled another piece of innovative technology, the Nokia 808 Pureview – a Symbian smartphone with a 41 megapixel camera.  This appeared to confirm rumours that the company was going to ship just one more Symbian device before it turned its full attention to Windows Phone following a strategic partnership it signed with Microsoft in February last year.

The idea of the magnetic tattoo authenticating the user might appear to be a privacy risk, but in the past surveys have found people receptive to similar ideas. In 2010, a survey found a quarter of Germans would be happy to have a chip implant.

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