Motorola, now owned by Google, has applied for a patent for technology that seems like complete science fiction: an electronic tattoo to be placed on a person’s neck that acts as a “mobile microphone, lie detector and digital display.”

This makes Motorola’s stomach acid-powered tablet that turns your body into a living password seem like the equivalent of a floppy disk. When Motorola announced the password pill, they also announced a more rudimentary electronic tattoo.

Australian news outlet The Age reports that the electronic tattoo would eliminate background noise that can disturb phone conversations by capturing vibrations or sound directly from the user’s throat.

The tattoo would have its own power supply built-in and would transmit the sound through Bluetooth, near-field communication (NFC) or ZigBee.

The patent, filed in 2012 but published on Thursday, states that the tattoo could also be used as a lie detector, according to the patent. The tattoo would measure the electrical conductance of the skin, known as the “galvanic skin response.”

The galvanic skin response is used to indicate psychological or physiological arousal because both are linked to skin moisture, which causes a variation in electrical conductance.

“A user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth-telling individual,” the patent states.

Indeed, skin conductivity is a measure regularly used in polygraph tests, though the American Psychological Association states, “the most practical advice is to remain skeptical about any conclusion wrung from a polygraph.”

Skin conductivity seems like quite an outdated way to detect deception, especially giventechnology like the so-called “mind-reading helmet.”

The electronic tattoo could even feature a display with a user interface capable of controlling a remote device with simple commands like mute, according to the patent.

“But exactly how users would operate a tiny touchscreen on their neck is anyone’s guess,” The Age notes.


It would not be limited to communicating with smartphones and could potentially be used with tablets or other mobile devices.

The Age reports that this type of technology might be a sign of a new future direction for Motorola, which has suffered continued loss of the smartphone market share in the United States.

ComScore reported that Motorola’s share of the US smartphone market fell to 6.8 percent in the quarter ending September, down from 7.2 percent in the quarter ending in June.

If Motorola is able to make technology like this work for a mass-market, it is not hard to imagine a significant increase in their business.


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