Motorola Wants to Tattoo Your Throat


Motorola has applied for a patent on a neck tattoo that could make it easier to use a cellphone. Fortunately it’s just a phrase rather than a proposal for permanent inking.

The patent, titled “Coupling an electronic skin tattoo to a mobile communication device”, was filed in May 2012 and has just been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The tattoo would actually be made of a flexible plastic substrate, though the patent application is a little short on detail of exactly how it would be attached to the throat. Inside the plastic would be various components including a microphone, a wireless transceiver (likely a Near Field Communication chip) and a power supply that could be remotely charged.

The main purpose of the device, which would connect to a smartphone or other mobile device, would be to pick up audio signals from the vibration of the throat, making it easier to distinguish the user’s voice from background noise. Motorola suggests this could be useful in busy stadiums, crowded streets, or when emergency staff attend a major incident. The device would also be set up to allow voice commands for the phone.

According to the filing, it could be possible for multiple users to have individually distinguishable and selectable devices on their necks. That could, for example, make it possible to get individual audio feeds in a group conversation where people may be talking over one another.

Given that people were always going to be suspicious when a company owned by Google came up with such an idea, it doesn’t really help when the patent filing goes on to suggest an optional use of the technology:

“The electronic skin tattoo can further include a galvanic skin response detector to detect skin resistance of a user. It is contemplated that a user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth telling individual.”

It does appear, however, that Motorola has figured out some people may not be comfortable with the tattoo model. The patent application notes that the same technology could be built into a collar or band that goes around the throat.

(Image credit: USPTO via The Register)

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