For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

MICROSOFT WANT YOUR SKIN

“Microsoft Owns Your Sweat” squeals the New Statesman. The Guardian is a bit more level-headed in reporting one of latest patents (USPTO No. 6,754,472 ) to be granted to Microsoft, “Method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body”. The idea is that the conductive properties of human skin and even sweat will be used to allow electrical devices such as pagers and PDAs to be networked to each other, although there are clues in Microsoft’s statement about the patent that it may be seeking to licence this technology, rather than exploiting it itself. Using the body itself has the edge over existing methods for networking devices such as Bluetooth because there is a lower risk of interference. It is also envisaged that the body may be used to power the gadgets and even that areas of the skin could be used as a keyboard. The Guardian speculates on future uses for the technology such as wearable computers that can be tailored to meet the requirements of different situations that the wearer may find himself in and devices to sensor health that can transmit the information they glean directly to the wearer’s doctor. However, not everyone is happy about this development. According to Jim Thomas of the ETC group, a civil liberties organisation which monitors developments in technology: "Body parts, in this case skin, should not be in any way patentable. There are big questions here about whether individuals will be able to refuse this technology if it is used in, for example, tracking devices."

The IPKat can already hear people getting jittery about this patent. He’d like to remind everyone that there’s no prospect of Microsoft “owning” people’s bodies or using stopping people from using their bodies on grounds of patent infringement. This is a patent for a particular application of technology which happens to involve the body.

More about sweat here, here, here and here
More computer inventions involving the human body here

2 comments:

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