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Nokia patents vibrating tattoo alerts


A visitor tries out a Nokia Lumia smartphone. The Finnish cell phone maker patented a magnetic tattoo that would alert users to calls and messages through vibrations, in March 2012.


Sean Gallup

Nokia, the Finnish cell phone company, filed a patent for a vibrating magnetic tattoo that could alert cell phone users to incoming calls and texts, said the BBC.

The patent described tattooing, stamping or spraying “ferromagnetic” material on a user’s skin and pairing it with a cell phone, which could then allow different vibrations to be set for different types of alerts. The tattoo would be made of compounds such as iron and iron oxide.

The filing said, “Examples of... applications may be low battery indication, received message, received call, calendar alert, change of profile,” reported the BBC.

The Los Angeles Times said the phone and magnetic tattoo would communicate through magnetic waves, syncing in ways similar to how Bluetooth syncs to phones currently.

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ABC News said the tattoo could also connect to other devices such as laptops, music players, tablets or game consoles.

The user would have to scratch the tattoo to dismiss the alert, which would feel like a tingling sensation, according to The Telegraph. The tattoo is inserted under the skin, so users would have to undergo a minor surgical procedure to use the technology. The more superficially applied option would be less resistant to wear and tear.

The technology firms HTC and Samsung have already explored touch feedback technology, but the BBC noted that Nokia's patent idea stands out among the advances because it permanently or semi-permanently marks the user's body. It is still unclear whether Nokia will follow the patent application with further research.

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