Nokia Vibrating Tattoo: Patented Haptic Technology During Phone Calls

Posted on 22 March 2012 by author

No doubt you know of setting ringtones to a specific person on your contacts list and putting your phone on vibrate, since they have been around since the early feature phone days, but it looks like one phone company is thinking of mashing these two features together for something completely new.

Last week, Nokia was awarded a patent for something described as “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 in question was then called names such as a tattoo, marking or badge, but reporters have taken to calling it a haptic tattoo more than anything because of its direct application to the skin.

What is haptic? Haptic technology is basically the technology that gives tactile feedback to the user in the form of vibrations or other forms of motion. It’s found in a lot of things today, such as teleoperators and virtual reality interactions, but the most prominent applications of this kind of technology are found in dualshock game controllers and the vibration feature of cellphones.

So how would it work? It would pick up magnetic field directly from a cellphone and vibrate once you receive a call. Nokia also stated in the patent that the haptic tattoo could be programmed to vibrate in different ways to let you know just who is calling. As long as you attach the tattoo that’s most likely made of fabric of some sort directly onto your skin, you’re good to go. It could be placed anywhere, such as an arm or the abdomen underneath clothing, and one of the images included in the patent shows it being attached to a fingernail like a decal.

For those who prefer real tattoos, Nokia has also thought of using ink to produce the same effect. To do this, ferromagnetic ink would be used, and it would have to undergo a few procedures before being used with haptic tech- namely, being demagnetized at high temperatures before application to the skin, then magnetize by keeping it close to an external magnet to make it sensitive to magnetic fields.

However, what Nokia is planning is very tricky, as the phone would have to send out different magnetic waves for the haptic tattoo to vibrate properly. In the end, it’s all up to the phone’s capabilities for this to be a success.

It does sound like a good idea if you frequent noisy areas or have a lot of meetings, but there’s no telling when Nokia will start making this work, should it really push through with this idea.



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