Pick Up the Phone — Your Tattoo is Vibrating

Nokia patented a body tattoo with magnetic ink connected to its smartphones, as science and technology merge in innovative and strange new ways.

Ferromagnetic ink in the tattoo, applied to the body via stamp, tape, or ink, reacts to a smartphone’s magnetic field, meaning calls or voice mails received on a smartphone can then trigger a vibration in the tattoo’s magnetic ink.

While most users probably won’t rush out to get a new Nokia tattoo, other haptic innovations that use magnetic vibrations are changing the technology landscape, building on the capabilities of mobile devices.

Haptic tablets are helping blind students navigate computers via tactile vibrations, and are also being implemented into a range of upcoming mobile games to improve game play and response.

OmniTouch, a wearable touch screen sensor system created by Microsoft, superimposes a touch screen on any surface, such as a wall, table, or even the palm of a hand. The depth-sensing camera tracks finger movements so users can paint, type, or take notes by tapping and dragging on the object’s surface.

In Nokia’s case, magnetic fields could create different kinds of alerts for different notifications. For example, a text message might trigger staccato vibrations and an incoming call a steady rhythm, allowing tattoo-wearers to distinguish the type of message by feel.

Nokia didn’t offer more insight into the hybrid technology, and many questions remain, including whether users can disable vibrations when they’re trying to sleep.

As mobile technology continues to expand, creators increasingly think outside the box with eccentric new innovations. Many of these new inventions will likely prove helpful, but if Nokia’s tattoo is any indication, we soon might be literally attached to our cell phones.

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