This sounds like something straight out of Blade Runner, but it’s absolutely true. A few years from now your mobile phone may no longer have a ringer. It won’t need it. Instead you’ll have a vibrating tattoo.
Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia has filed a patent for a device which would be embedded in your skin and use haptic feedback triggered by commands from your cell phone. Haptics are meant to appeal to your sensse of touch using vibrations in the skin. Nokia describes their new device this way:
…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.
Translation: vibrating tattoo. Or at least some sort of vibrating sticker. They’re still investigating whether to embed it in your skin by tattooing with ferromagnetic inks or whether they want to use some kind of badge. The sticker or badge may end up being the earlier version with the tattoo version to come down the road. The tattoo version could take whatever form you wanted, you’d actually be able to customize the design to look like anything, just like a normal tattoo.
Here’s Nokia’s sketch of what it might look like once applied…
Whatever the mechanism used, it would likely be somehow embedded in your skin. Then your cell phone would, instead of vibrating or ringing, emit a special magnetic field whenever you get a call. The device attached to your skin would then react to that magnetic field and begin vibrating, letting you know that the phone is ringing.
The device could be used more than just as a substitute for ringtones. The Wall Street Journal originally uncovered this patent and they seem somewhat confused as to why anyone might want this on them. But that’s why they’re the WSJ and we’re Giant Freakin Robot.
Sure you can set your phone to vibrate now, but if you’re a woman who puts her phone in her purse the vibrate function is almost useless. Even as a guy who drops his cell phone in his pocket, more often than not I miss calls that come through on vibrate. This could solve all of that and do so much more. Imagine it as a silent alarm clock that only you can hear. You could even program in different types of vibrations to signify different types of reminder alarms or to differentiate between different callers. Sign me up right now.