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20.3.12

-- A new ringtone could make mobiles much more discreet - the only sign someone's using their phone is that they'll be scratching their arm.  Nokia has applied for a U.S. patent for a new technology where a magnetic tattoo would transfer a tingling feeling into phone users' arms when the phone rings.  It's open to question whether  phone users will be willing to go under the needle for the added convenience.  Magnetic material in the skin would 'vibrate' in response to signals sent out by a phone - providing a discreet alert that's impossible to ignore.  Nokia proposes that the magnetic tattoo could be magnetised once users have 'healed'.  The tattoo would offer single and multiple 'pulses' to signal different things.  Nokia's application suggests that people's tattoos might buzz to warn them that they have received an SMS, missed a call, or the phone is running out of batteries.  The tattoos could also 'ring' as an alarm, or to warn phone users of an upcoming meeting. 

'Prior to using the ferromagnetic inks for attaching to human skin, the ink material may be exposed to elevated temperatures to cause demag  netization,' proposes Nokia.  'Such demagnetized ink is then used for creating an image by  dispersing the ink material on or under the skin to make a functional, tattoo like image.  'Once the apparatus is settled and the skin cured, the user with the functional image may use permanent magnets to magnetize the functional image on the skin again.'  The technology would also depend on mobile phones that could send out magnetic pulses to order.  The patent application, filed this month at the US Patent and Trademark Office, is for a 'layer' of material which would detect a magnetic signal from a phone, then transfer vibrations into the skin.  The technology would extend today's vibration feedback - known as 'haptics' - where a phone vibrates to tell you it's running out of batteries or that someone is calling.

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