Now and again you hear of a solution that seems to be struggling to find a problem. That certainly seems to be the case with a technology that’s been patented by Nokia: the vibrating tattoo that denotes incoming calls
Yes, the company has come up with an idea for apparatus including “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 patent application goes on to explain the specifics: an electronic device (such as a cellphone) sends magnetic fields to trigger vibrations in or on the body. The company is thinking this could be through a variety of apparatus such as devices attached to a fingernail or to the skin itself, but also suggests it could be under the skin via a tattoo.
This could work by using ferromagnetic ink, though to work properly this would need to be heated to demagnetize it before the tattooing, then remagnetized once in place by running a magnet over the skin. The application notes it’s even possible to trigger different levels of vibration to indicate a specific caller.
To be fair to the squeamish, Nokia also suggests the system could work just as well with a temporary sticker on the skin.
Personally I’d like to see further exploration into less invasive variations on this undoubtedly creative idea. For example, perhaps it might be possible to somehow have the phone itself vibrate when there’s a call.