Here is an interesting development from Google-owned company Motorola Mobility. They have recently applied for a patent to cover the connection between an electronic smart tattoo, like the one pictured below, and a smart phone.
The tattoo they have been working with would be applied across the vocal chords and capable of picking up subtle voice commands. They believe that it can be engineered to pick up even subvocal commands.
There is also a possibility that they could design it to pick up the your voice when you are speaking to your internal self. This internal speech still triggers neural spike volleys within your speech system, akin to when you speak properly. These volleys could be detected by the e-tattoo.
The concept of picking audio up directly from the throat is not a new one. Since 1934 throat microphones have been extensively used in the military when operating in noisy conditions, jet fighter cockpits for example. A direct contact microphone picks up sound waves travelling through the throat wall.
This could lead to some interesting applications. Imagine being able to access the voice commands of your smart phone by merely thinking the correct command. It could also add to the ever-increasing number of medical monitoring applications that have been developed. The tattoo could be used to monitor stress and emotion in your voice.
So this does look like a promising concept although I would hope for a more appealing design than that shown above – I don’t think many of us would be happy to walk around with a circuit emblazoned on our throats – It is a bit too reminiscent of Robert Rankin’s book East of Ealing for me, where a technologically advanced satanic organisation attempts to take over the world by barcoding the population so that they must use their marks instead of currency:
“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666” – Revelations 13:16-18
Now I do not mean to suggest that Google is a satanic cult trying to take over the world but I will certainly be keeping an eye on developments for this technology.