Google wants to get under your skin

13 Nov 2013

As featured on TM Forum's the Insider blog.

I’ve been waiting patiently for the day I could be officially micro-chipped, like they do with dogs, so I could go through airport and passport controls with ease. Just think of it - no more passports, drivers’ licenses, boarding passes, even money or credit cards. The mind boggles over what they could cram into that little chip nestled comfortable somewhere under my skin.

It’s not looking likely just yet but how about a tattoo on your neck that doubles as a mobile microphone, lie detector and digital display. No, seriously, it’s the latest to come from Google-owned smartphone maker Motorola that recently applied for a patent on the technology.

According to the patent, the tattoo would capture vibrations, or sound, directly from a user's throat, thus eliminating background noise (beats finding a quieter space I suppose). It also works as a lie detector by measuring the skin's electrical conductance or ‘galvanic skin response’ – the level at which electric current passes through something. I’m guessing when you lie you sweat more and bells go off as the circuit closes.

The bizarre part is that your voice would be transmitted from the electronic tattoo, which has its own power supply built-in, to a nearby smartphone via Bluetooth, near-field communication, also known as NFC, or the wireless technology ZigBee. That is some tattoo, but wait, there’s more. Supposedly, it could even be fitted with a display and user interface for inputting commands, such as muting the device and joining a group conversation.

It’s getting more and more difficult to work out which of the many Google-inspired devices are serious or simply put out there to scare us, and the competition. The electronic tattoo is up there with the password pill that, when swallowed, will send out an 18-bit authentication signal, which your device will pick up and use in lieu of a password.

Of course, the NSA and other great institutions that protect us from evil will no longer need to plant bugs in cars and houses, tap phones or intercept and de-encrypt our calls and message – they will just be able to tune in to us with Bluetooth to hear everything we say.

I wonder if Google gave thought to the sub-industries this could create. Designer tattoos come to mind immediately. Posers will probably go for a bold telephone handset design to show off their talking tattoo. Others may stick with the more subtle, yet common, butterfly. As a traditionalist, I think I’ll just stick with a big heart emblazoned with ‘Mother’ across it.

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