The Google-owned Motorola Mobility has patent an e-tattoo that can read your thoughts by listening to unvocalized words in your throat. It is all set to make your phone communicate with your thoughts and may be your thoughts might control the smartphone as well . The tattoo they have in mind is actually one that will be emblazoned over your vocal cords to intercept subtle voice commands — perhaps even subvocal commands, or even the fully internal whisperings that fail to pluck the vocal cords when not given full cerebral approval. One might even conclude that they are not just patenting device communications from a patch of smartskin, but communications from your soul.
How it works ?
It is a known fact that when you speak to yourself in your inner voice, your brain still sends neural spike volleys to your vocal apparatus, in a similar fashion to when you actually speak aloud. Only the main difference between the two, is that the nervous action driving covert speech as it is called, is subthreshold, and does not generate the full muscle contraction. The same might also be said for imagining throwing a baseball — it is probably not possible to even do so without simultaneously calling up and at least partially launching un-amplified motor programs. Stated another way, your thoughts are your motor intentions, only they are not always recognizable as such if they are sufficiently abstracted.
The actual patent speaks of picking up an “auditory signal” from the tattoo, and converting it into a digital signal. The signals from the brain, carried by spikes on the hundreds of laryngeal nerve fibers (and other nerves modulating the vocal tract), are already digital. They bear no real resemblance to an auditory signal at this point. After transformation in the numerous muscles that control the speech organs, there is still no single signal that could be sent to a transducer to generate sound recognizable as speech. Looking at an image of a smart tattoo pioneered by John Roger’s Illinois-based research lab, there seems to be all kinds of sensor goodies which can be built in to pick up various biologics. I don’t know if the strain gauges could pick up an actual speech signal in the same way that a conventional microphone could, but they would certainly generate useful information. The built-in EMG and ECG electrodes would not pick up individual spikes so to speak, but could certainly generate electrical records of muscle activity, and perhaps eventually compound nerve potentials. Rogers helped to form a company, MC10, that hoped to commercialize this technology, and although he indicated that he was not involved in these recent ventures, they have joint development efforts with Motorola Mobility.
There is already a device known as a throat microphone that has been used to record an auditory signal in noisy conditions like, for example, the cockpit of a jet fighter. Developed along with the first pressure suit back in 1934, it used a direct contact microphone to pick up sound waves traveling through solid objects such as the throat wall. Later so-called throat microphones, such as the Xbox 360 accessory, only use an open-air microphone. They do not really exclude background noise, nor have the ability to pick up unvoiced signals.
What got some folks attention recently, namely those over atPatently Apple, was a few peculiar statements in the patent regarding the recording of galvanic skin responses. These guys first heard about the e-skin tattoo from Regina Dugan, the former DARPA head who is now in charge of advanced research at Motorola. Their article notes that the e-tattoo would provide a nice way to do authentication, but the seemingly out of place inclusion of the lie detection talk certainly raises some questions.
Covert voice activation of your device in a crowd would definitely be a nice feature. Instead of actually speaking to Siri or Google Now, you could merely think your voice command. Detecting stress and other emotion could have some applicability too, although who else really needs to know if you have a lump in your throat?
Clearly this is one among several recent patents that we all may want to keep an eye on.May be in coming years it might become a source for the dumb people to speak .
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