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Excuse me, my tattoo is ringing

Vibrating tattoo illustration
Meet Nokia, the king of synergy.

Many young people today seem to covet two things -- smartphones and tattoos. So Nokia has filed a patent for, as my colleague Deborah Netburn writes, "a tattoo that would send 'a perceivable impulse' to your skin whenever someone tried to contact you on the phone."

And you thought those Bluetooth things stuck in people's ears were silly!

Still, coming on the heels of a report that Apple sold more than 3 million new iPads in the first three days of its release, I'm not about to rain on a company's technology parade.

So how would this "tattoo ringer" work?

According to the patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the phone would communicate with the tattoo through magnetic waves. The phone would emit magnetic waves and the tattoo would act as a receiver. When the waves hit the tattoo, it would set off a tactile response in the user's skin.

The patent also suggests that it would be possible to customize the physical response depending on who is calling -- similar to having a different ring tone for different family members. So if your husband calls, you might only feel a dull tingling, but if it's your teenage daughter calling you'd feel a mighty itch.

Isn't technology great?  I can envision the future:  The whole family stops at the smartphone store, then troops next door to the tattoo parlor for customized "tattoo ringtones." 

Or more likely, the tattoo artist will be right there in the smartphone store. Heck, maybe it'll even be a robot tattoo artist.  How cool would that be? You pick a tattoo from a screen, press a button and presto, off with your shirt and on with your tattoo.

I'm sure apps will be written to take advantage of this; there's an app for most everything now. Perhaps you'll be able to download the app to your phone and it would instruct little brother in how to tattoo a ringtone.

Maybe there will be ringtone tattoo parties.

Yes, in this brave new world, a tattoo that says "Mom" will mean just that: Mom calling.

Of course, there are obstacles.  Girlfriends and boyfriends come and go, as do husbands and wives. So, I'd advise caution: Stay away from "I love Kate" or "My sweet Phil" tattoos. 

Something generic, perhaps. Like "I love her/him."

Yes. That has a certain ring to it, I'd say.

ALSO:

 Peyton Manning, Zeus of QBs in a football-mad nation

Save the incredible sinking, leaning Washington Monument

The test-tube babies testing the limits of survivor benefits 

--Paul Whitefield

Photo: Nokia's patent for a vibrating tattoo. Credit: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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