Tattoos have been used for everything from aesthetics to gang signs to religious rituals. Within the field of medicine they are often used to ID patients with certain illnesses or allergies. We’ve covered emerging medical applications of tattoos multiple times, including a ‘nanotattoo‘ that can monitor blood glucose. Now, tattoos may have yet another high tech application.
This week Nokia filed a patent that may lead to the development of magnetic tattoos that vibrate when triggered by, say, a phone call. In legal IP speak, the patent – titled “Haptic Communication” summarizes the invention as follows:
According to a first aspect of the present invention, an apparatus comprises 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.
According to a second aspect of the present invention, an electronic device configured to generate a magnetic field, the magnetic field having at least one characteristic related to digital content stored on the electronic device.
According to a third aspect of the present invention, a method comprises detecting a magnetic field using a material attached to skin and causing a perceivable stimulus to the skin by magnetically manipulating the material.
While these tattoos may not hit the market for many years, technologists are abuzz with ideas for how they may be applied. According to an article in Toronto Star:
“You could be swimming in the ocean, get a buzz, and realize you’ve got to get back to check your phone if you were waiting for an important call,” said [Roel] Vertegaal, who also suggested it could be modified to help alert blind people when they’re approaching objects, or to help surgeons.
For people using electronic medical devices such as pacemakers, Nokia’s application attempts to allay concerns about whether the high-tech tattoo would interfere with their life-saving functions.
“There will be insignificant or no influence on their internal electronic implants,” the patent application said.
More from Toronto Star: Nokia’s magnetic tattoo: Why your arm may be ringing someday soon
Patent Application: Haptic Communication