Microsoft Patents Method for Transmitting Data Using the Human Body

Microsoft this week patented a technique describing the “method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body”. Basically, they intend to use live bodies as a data bus for transmitting data to local devices – your watch, for example.

The network requires “a body of a living creature for coupling the first device to the second device and for conducting the electrical signal” in order to operate.The envisaged system is intended to reduce much of the redundancy between the devices you carry around with you today – your PDA, phone and MP3 player all require battery power, plus much of the gear you have on you at any one time has a speaker or a display or its own keyboard. Microsoft want to take out this duplication and distribute it around you, with devices communicating by sending electrical signals, well, there no nice way of putting this: through your living flesh.

I hope they nail down the security on this far tighter than they do on their operating systems because it could could bring a whole new meaning to “port sniffing” if hackers managed to get into it.

I think I’ll stick to Bluetooth for the time being, thank you – at least if I suffer a seizure when my mobile rings, it’s only because it’s Simon chasing an article.

The patent

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?