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Nokia patents vibrating haptic tattoos, future phone calls will tickle

Creepy? Absolutely!
March 23, 2012

As tech writers, we, at Android Authority, are pretty hard to surprise. We see all sorts of innovative, amazing, or downright mind-boggling technologies every day. But yet, at times, even we are impressed of some of the ideas that tech companies come up with. Take Nokia, for example – the Finns just patented haptic tattoos. What do you mean, what the heck is a haptic tattoo? It’s a tattoo that vibrates when some one calls you or sends you a text. Duh!!

So, how would these Nokia haptic tattoos work exactly? Basically, they will be made of ferromagnetic (containing metal particles) ink, which can be wirelessly controlled by your phone. When a notification is received from the phone, the ink would start vibrating on your skin. Ingenious? Absolutely? Creepy? ABSOLUTELY!

The idea kind of reminds me of an episode of Mythbusters, where they tested to see if metal-based ink tattoos explode when exposed to strong magnetic fields, like the ones produced by medical MRIs. Don’t worry, they don’t.

Here’s a cool video of how ferromagnetic fluids behave:

The Patent

So, let’s go over the idea that came to the bright minds at Nokia that patented the haptic tattoo. From our understanding, the tattoo could be applied in the regular fashion, with the only difference being the ferromagnetic ink used. You could then set up the type of vibrations you want to use as signals for incoming phone calls, mails, or even alarms. (Imagine being woken up from that sweet morning slumber by a vigorous tickle in a sensitive area. Ouch!)

When someone calls you and the phone is within range, the ink will start to vibrate. The vibrations would presumably be strong enough for you to feel, yet not harmful. While tattoos are a lasting decoration on your skin, the concept would also work with removable stickers treated with the same ferromagnetic ink.


Regardless how crazy it sounds (ugh, vibrates), Nokia’s haptic tattoos do have some potential useful applications. During meetings, you could still know when an important call would be coming in. Similarly, in noisy environments where you just  can’t hear your phone ring, you might still feel it. Sounds a little bit creepy, doesn’t it? While Nokia’s idea does seem to tread in the realm of sci-fi, it’s not crazy to think that, sometimes in the future, we will see this concept turned into a real world application.

Nokia’s crazy wireless tattoos idea reminds me about how we increasingly bond with technology, every day. Will we, one day, have integrated microchips in our body, so we don’t even have to pick up the phone to answer? Perhaps, but the thought is a bit frightening.