Hang on, my torso is vibrating…


Suddenly the huge “I Love Mom” tattoo on my bicep* feels so passé… 

ABC News and other news outlets are reporting that Nokia has filed a U.S. patent application for a magnetic, vibrating tattoo that would wirelessly connect to a mobile device and alert users of phone calls, texts and battery status. 

The patent diagram shows the small square applied to a finger, torso and wrist. For those who are wary of getting actual tattoos (c’mon, my mom loves her tribute!), the patent says the receiver can potentially be attached in other ways, including as a stamp or with adhesive tape. 

The sketches in Nokia’s patent application show how the “vibrating tattoo” could be attached to the user’s skin.

CNNMoney’s Chris Boyette  points out that the tattoo could be a solution for people who don’t like loud ringtones, but don’t always have their phones close enough to feel vibrations. Although surely service providers are pleased to learn about any new feature or device that has the potential to increase usage by keeping people even more connected, I wonder whether there will be a consumer backlash at a certain point. 

Last summer, an Amdocs survey identified three distinct groups of mobile consumer communities – the “cyborg” group was described as embracing connectivity in all aspects of their lives, including professional and personal spheres, across all devices and places. Maybe some of the people in this group, who view their phone as part of their personality and a prime social enabler, would be willing to start down the path of becoming actual cyborgs.  

But what about people who make a firm distinction between their virtual life and their “real life” and don’t see their mobile phone (or tablet, etc.) as an extension or reflection of their personality? And what about “technological nomads” who are hesitant to commit to a specific device-maker for even a year, let alone a lifetime? 

Blogger Jeff Barak previously noted that some employers have already started blocking employees from checking emails on their mobile during off-hours. Too much connectivity can lead to an increase in stress and a decrease in the quality of human relationships, which could eventually cause a consumer backlash. 

Maybe it’s something to think about before getting a tattoo that you may regret… 

*I don’t actually have an “I Love Mom” tattoo. (And no, Mom, it’s not because I don’t love you!)


  1. Gayle
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this going just a bit too far?

  2. Eran Barak
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    What’s next – a body fixture that can also answer incoming calls? We can call it “bluetooth ear-piece”. Perhaps I should just wait for the VR enabled contact lens to truly embrace my cyborg self.

  3. Eric Danis
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Gayle, yes.

    Eran, there may not be a long wait for enhanced/augmented vision:


    “Google is expected to start selling eyeglasses that will project information, entertainment and, this being a Google product, advertisements onto the lenses. The glasses are not being designed to be worn constantly — although Google engineers expect some users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed, with the lenses serving as a kind of see-through computer monitor.”

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