Monday, May 02, 2005

It Would Never Have Worked. His Skin Was PC-Compatible; Hers Was Apple 

In the mood for a little intra-body communication? Get ready for "human area networking," a new technology that transmits data at up to 10 megabits per second across your epidermis, utilizing the faint electric fields generated by human skin:
Linked only by touch, the transceivers can also connect to similar transceivers worn by other users or embedded in any objects in real space, such as turnstiles or consumer electronics. Promising better security and far less interference than short-range wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, ZigBee and Near-Field Communications, RedTacton will likely be targeted for use in applications such as wireless headphones, wearable medical devices, security applications, and point-of-sale interactions . . . .

NTT is particularly enthusiastic about touch-based personalization applications. For example, the act of sitting in your car seat could instruct seats and mirrors to adjust accordingly or picking up a shared cell phone would instantly make it yours. NTT also envisions touch-based interactive advertising that customizes itself to an individual's profile or smart medicine bottles that would sound an alarm if you try to take the wrong pill.

Before the technology goes commercial, Sakamoto says, it will probably first be integrated into security applications. Because RedTacton avoids wireless snooping, touch-based purchases would be private and provide authentication to vendors, allowing people to do things such unlocking a door simply by touching the knob.

Edging toward the Big-Brother scenarios that all such pervasive technologies seem to enable, RedTacton could be built into objects such as filing cabinets so companies could keep track of who used what . . . .

"You do not have to take your ID card from your pocket," says Sakamoto. "Just touching or walking with your PDA in your pocket is enough for authentication."

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