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Dude. Your Tattoo is Ringing.

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22nd March 2012

In the recent past there have been several attempts at splicing technology onto (or into) humans.

Modern neuroscientists have used what is widely known as a brain–computer interface (BCI), or what is sometimes called a direct neural interface or a brain–machine interface (BMI) to create communication directly from the human brain into an external device. The implications are that we could someday approach the sophistication in machine-brain connectivity that has only been speculated about in science fiction (think the Borg on Star Trek).

Of course some of these direct connections are amazing and incredibly helpful. For example, cochlear implants can literally help the deaf to hear. Other applications are more questionable.

A researcher recently stumbled across a patent granted to Nokia Corporation (you know the guys who make mobile phones) which would protect ''material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin''. In other words Nokia has patented the ability for a human being to get a tattoo imbued with specific magnetic ink which will vibrate when you get a phone call. You can even get different ''ring tones'' according to the Los Angeles Times, ''The patent also suggests that it would be possible to customize the physical response depending on who is calling -- similar to having a different ring tone for different family members. So if your husband calls, you might only feel a dull tingling, but if it's your teenage daughter calling you'd feel a mighty itch.''

Is it just me or does that sound just bit creepy. There are a number of issues that immediately spring to mind when contemplating such a phone tattoo.

  1. What if I'm asleep and don't want to get any calls - because they'll wake me up? Can I 'turn it off'?
  2. Can they build in a tattoo 'number display' so I can see who's calling? I get that you can have various 'ring tones' but I want to look at the incoming number if I can.
  3. Can the tattoo be anywhere on my body? I mean it would be different having my wrist vibrate than...well...other body parts.
  4. What if I get sick of having it? Can it be removed with a laser like regular tattoos?
  5. If I switch my phone service - do I need to get a new tattoo? Or can I keep my same tattoo number?

The list goes on. Technology and communications expert Daniel Foster, a technology executive with speculates that additional human-machine direct connections will eventually become commonplace, ''Just as the mobile phone itself is an indispensable accessory of modern life, eventually humans will adapt to having electronic devices implanted which facilitate productivity and enhance leisure time. I would think that these devices would be implanted sub-cutaneously to preserve the human form. However, there are always fashionista who desire to shock viewers into taking note.''

The point is though, is this the direction that the human race is going? Always on, always connected, no escaping any electronic signal sent your way? While technology can be a great asset to humanity, perhaps there is a limit to how much technology one human being should be tethered to. You can see further information on this story in the LA Times piece.


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