Is Nokia’s patented tat the next tattoo my kids will want?

nokia tattoo that vibrates with cellphone call -- patent illustrationActually, I lie. At this point in their lives — 15, 12, 8 — my kids are vehemently against tattoos, so much so that I occasionally taunt them by talking about a tattoo I want to get on my arm or my calf. They then predictably react with great judgment and insist “You will not get a tattoo, Daddy!”

Not sure why I find their reaction entertaining, but maybe its because we see so many twenty-somethings that are covered in tattoos and piercings. Some are cool, I admit, and there are certainly tattoos I’ve seen that are attractive. I talk with heavily tattooed people and admire the ones who can tell me the story behind each piece of art on their body, the meaning of their graphics. Often it’s rather profound, the “my sister’s name. she’s dead now, and this is how I remember her”. Then there are the people who just like having their arms / legs / body / neck covered in artwork. It’s all good, it’s their body, not mine, but some do see wayyyyy over the top.

I’ve always been inspired by the graphical typeface artwork of Scott Kim (he had a terrific book out in the early 1980s called Inversions. Look it up. Cool stuff) and the lat/long tattoos that celebrity Angelina Jolie has on her arm, the birth locations of each of her children (I’ve even written about it: Angelina and her geolocation tattoos) and toyed with the idea of having Kim or someone equally talented create a complex intertwining of my children’s first initials in a design that looks like a Celtic knot unless you know the secret of its creation.

Indeed, my children’s names are hidden in both of the major art pieces I’ve commissioned, one of which is so subtle that the artist had to point out their locations to me. Shhh, it’s a secret though…

Anyway, so I’m hip to tattoos, but truth be told, it’s art that doesn’t survive the test of time. Our skin sags and the ink fades, and a tattoo that’s vivid and very cool at 18 just doesn’t look so cool at 40 and is definitely awkward on a 65yo in most cases. Look at those old WWII serviceman tattoos on the biceps of retired folk now, you’ll know what I mean.

So what would be cool would be tattoos that did something, and that’s exactly what Nokia’s come up with. As the LA Times reports, Nokia has patented a tattoo that included ferromagnetic ink and would, via magnetic waves, react or vibrate based on specific signals being sent from your mobile device. A tattoo that vibrated when your phone rang.

As they describe: “The phone would emit magnetic waves and the tattoo would act as a receiver. When the waves hit the tattoo, it would set off a tactile response in the user’s skin.”

Somehow I can just see getting this high-tech tattoo just to find out two years later that it’s obsolete, no longer supported by Nokia, and replaced by a newer tech that’s more useful and might even have certain elements of your tattoo light up when calls come in. That’d be slick, eh?

Still, it leads to the question: would you actually modify your body to make yourself more tech-friendly? I mean, is it that far a step from cellphone-friendly tattoos to embedded RFID in your neck? X Files, are you out there?

3 comments on “Is Nokia’s patented tat the next tattoo my kids will want?

  1. And the first thing that would happen is that someone would figure out how to emit a signal that not only made the iron particles vibrate, but vibrate violently, and emit it so it activated tattoos within a wide radius. Even better would be one that could make them vibrate fast enough to heat up… a lot.

    But your point about obsolesence also rings true too. It’s always been my fear that we’ll reach the point where bioneural implants become all the rage and early adopters end up getting screwed when one of the first movers goes bankrupt and early adopters can no longer score security patches for their implants.

    More importantly, when we start getting neural implants, the viruses that turn our computers into zombies could evolve into viruses that turn *us* into zombies.

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