USPTO or US patent office is the place where you can go and search for patents claimed by companies . Some of the tech journo has gone to the site and unearthed two very interesting granted patents for Nokia.

Slide to unlock:

You slide an icon across the screen to reveal at least one app icon, while the icon which you have slid across the screen expands and is eventually overlaid onto the app icon. Sliding further to an ‘unlock region’ of the device will result in the screen getting unlocked and the desired app being launched.

In 2011, Google has filed for a patent that’s quite similar to that which has just been granted to Nokia. And Nokia filed for its patent back in 2007. Things might look different enough in Google’s filing on first glance, but upon closer inspection the general idea described there is basically the same one Nokia had. Nokia in fact took unlocking to the next level, by also performing an additional action (for example, launching a specific app) while unlocking a device.

Vibrating tattoos/Haptic skin tattoos:

Nokia wants to take haptic feedback to a level, proposing the application of tattoos with ferromagnetic inks, that will vibrate based on commands from your phone. You have worn a sort of material that’s attachable to the skin. On your forearm, for example. This material can do two things: detect a magnetic field, and emit a vibration.

Now let us see how it works,

  • The material could be paired with a phone, for example, like Bluetooth accessories are paired to electronics. The phone, however, would have to be capable of emitting varying magnetic fields. So then, for example, when someone calls that phone, it will send out a specific magnetic field. The material will detect that, and will start vibrating in a certain pattern. That pattern could be different according to who’s calling, or it could be different according to what exactly is happening on the phone (a phone call, text message, and so on).
  • For this to work, the phone would have to send out a different magnetic field for each action, because the material would associate a different type of vibration with each kind of magnetic field it detects. The vibrations would happen by magnetically manipulating the material.
  • Nokia has also thought about using an actual tattoo instead of that material attached to your skin.The tattoo would be applied using ferromagnetic inks. The ink material would first be exposed to high temperatures to demagnetize it. Then the tattoo would be applied. You’ll apparently be able to choose the actual image you want as the tattoo. The procedure is identical to that of getting a ‘normal’ tattoo – only the ink is special.
  • After the tattoo has been applied, you’ll need to magnetize it. That means bringing the tattooed area in the close proximity of an external magnet, and going “several times over this magnet to magnetize the image material again”. The tattoo will then have enhanced sensitivity towards external alternating magnet fields, and will basically function the same way the aforementioned material attached to your skin did. Only in a more permanent fashion, so to speak.
  • There probably are some valid use cases for something like this. For example, in noisy environments when you risk not hearing your phone, this tech would make sure you know it is ringing. Or even at the exact opposite end of the spectrum, it could prove useful in very quiet situations, where even a phone set to vibrate can be heard and can be disturbing. Although with this use case we are already plunging into creepy territory.