Nokia feels out haptic feedback tattoo system for phones

March 20, 2012 by Nancy Owano, report

Image from USPTO.
( -- Nokia, the Finnish smartphone maker, has filed a patent for a haptic communication system where tattoos will send you vibrations so you know who is calling. Your ferromagnetic ink tattoo would vibrate based on signals sent from a phone and you could customize the tattoo-phone-linked system. A special ferromagnetic ink on your skin, painted on like a tattoo, could send the various signals. The patent, filed March 15 by Nokia, proposes a material "capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field." The US patent application 20120062371 is described as a topical haptic notification system.

Nokia proposes that the material worn on the body or painted on the skin can detect a and emit a vibration with options for different kind of haptic feedbacks, among which the user may choose to personalize the device. The magnetic field, when detected by the apparatus, would cause a different effect based on characteristics. For example, the magnetic field may cause vibration of one short pulse, multiple short pulses, a few long pulses, combined short and long pulses, strong pulses and weak pulses. Timing between pulses and/or length of pulses and/or strength of pulses would differ in response to detecting the magnetic field. In a sample embodiment, according to the patent, the phone menu may comprise a set of magnetic field options, which may comprise magnetic fields of different kinds.

The site translates the patent text into plainer language. Vlad Bobleanta synthesizes the Nokia visions into more basic embodiments, of either a material that attaches to your body or wearing the phone notifier directly on the skin.

He says that in the first rendering, Nokia proposes a material that could attach to the forearm, for example, and it is that material that would detect a magnetic field and emit a vibration. In the second embodiment, the tattoo would be applied using ferromagnetic inks. The ink material would be exposed to high temperatures to demagnetize it. Then the tattoo would be applied. After the tattoo was applied, the user would need to magnetize it. The would gain enhanced sensitivity towards external alternating magnet fields.

Observers reacting to the patent news said they could see some practical use, in environments where either it would be too noisy to hear the Top 40 ringtone or other sounds and the user would thus miss an incoming call, or in an environment where it must be quiet, and standard ring tones were discouraged.

Observers also think is showing awareness of what comes next as a mobile device buzzword: touch, including vibrations. Haptic technology is a tactile feedback technology that takes advantage of a user's sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. Manufacturers, for competitive advantage, will feature devices that can attract users with novel "touch" and vibration experiences.

Explore further: Briefs: Nokia, Kyocera resolve patent dispute

Related Stories

Apple countersues Nokia over phone patents

December 11, 2009

(AP) -- Apple Inc. is suing cell phone maker Nokia Corp. for patent infringement, a countermove to Nokia's earlier suit against technologies used in Apple's iPhone.

New ink makes tattoos less permanent

December 30, 2006

Scientists at two U.S. universities developed a solution to make tattoos less permanent -- an ink that can be removed with a single laser treatment.

Tattoos linked to rare skin infection in US

August 10, 2011

At least two men may have come down with a rare bacterial skin infection that is hard to treat with antibiotics after getting tattoos at a store in Seattle, US health authorities said Wednesday.

How tattoos 'move' with age

April 28, 2011

The dyes which are injected into the skin to create tattoos move with time – permanently altering the look of a given design. In this month’s Mathematics Today Dr Ian Eames, a Reader in Fluid Mechanics at UCL, publishes ...

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Mar 20, 2012
i wonder how strong a vibration this ink has? would a tattoo on the mastoid process (behind the ear) vibrate enough to be heard? put an magnetic ink antenna on your head, and you are borg! lol
not rated yet Mar 20, 2012
This wasn't my first thought reading the article, but it occurs to me this technology could have pretty exciting applications in the sexual realm. I doubt I need to elaborate.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 21, 2012
Imbed the mike and speaker under the skin, then you'll have something. Otherwise, seems like a gentler vibrate mode on the phone would be as good.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
A rip-off from oc(organic circuitry)-tatoos idea of Peter F. Hamilton from The Void series.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.