Printed electronics, tattoos and artificial skin

I came across a recent patent application from Nokia describing a haptic communication method in which labels or tattoos on the skin can be made to vibrate when triggered by a magnetic field.  In one example the magnetic field could be initiated by a mobile phone and the user could be alerted to incoming phone calls via the sensations induced on the users skin.

The patent application was published on 15th March 2012 as US20120062371

What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus comprising:
a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.
2. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the material comprises at least one of a visible image, invisible image, invisible tattoo, visible tattoo, visible marking, invisible marking, visible marker, visible sign, invisible sign, visible label, invisible label, visible symbol, invisible symbol, visible badge and invisible badge.
3. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the perceivable stimulus comprises vibration.

Several other claims go on to describe the material in more detail and indicate that it could comprise a ferromagnetic powder.

At about the same time The University of Cambridge were publishing in the Advanced Materials journal ( Vol 24, No. 12 pp. 1558-1565) an article on the progress made by researchers in the Cavendish Laboratory towards better flexible printed electronics materials.  The work was recently highlighted in the Research Features page and applications mentioned include artificial skin and interactive playing cards.  Many of these applications are a long way off yet but the groundwork to make them possible is progressing at a rapid rate.  The new circuits developed by Drs Kronemeijer and Gili exhibited the fastest operation published to date (a few hundred KHz) using a new class of ambipolar organic materials and reduced the power supply requirements by approximately one order of magnitude so that they can already be operated using a standard 9V battery.

If anyone would like to know more about the patent applications that are emerging in this highly competitive field then please contact me at IPScope (