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March 26, 2012

That May Not Be a Phantom Vibration: Nokia Files Patent for Vibrating Tattoo

By Shawn Hebert, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Discovered in a patent filing first reported on by Unwired View, Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia (News - Alert) is designing a skin tattoo that allows for magnetically-induced vibrating particles to be embedded underneath the skin.

The patent was filed on September 13, 2011.  Regardless of whether or not it reaches the consumer level, the concept is intriguing.

The patent application describes the approach as “a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring the perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.”

Using an induction coil on the phone to excite the vibrating particles, the idea is to alert a cell phone user whenever an incoming phone call or text message is received.

The tattoo would require the phone to be able to send out a magnetic signal in order to function properly. Whether the tattoo be permanent or temporary, the vibration can be customized depending on the content. For example, an assertive vibration could be used for email and text messages while a more soft, gentle vibration could be used for news and weather alerts.  

“The magnetic field, when detected by the apparatus, will cause a different effect based on its characteristics. For example, the magnetic field may cause vibration of one short pulse, multiple short pulses, a few long pulses, a mixture of short and long pulses, strong pulses, weak pulses and so on,” states the patent application.

This brings up several immediate questions. Is that tattoo temporary or permanent and what happens when you change your phone? Unfortunately, the patent application does not address these concerns.

However, the patent application does disclose Nokia's plan for a less invasive method to use this technology, it includes wearing magnetic receiver, similar to a sticker, that can be worn on the skin or any article of clothing.

When asked for a comment, a Nokia spokesperson declined.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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