Google's Skin Tattoo Lie Detector

Google's Motorola division has filed a patent for a microphone with lie-detector circuitry directly onto your throat. Take a look at the amazingly detailed picture below, taken from the patent application "Coupling an Electronic Skin Tattoo to a Mobile Device".

(Coupling an Electronic Skin Tattoo to a Mobile Device)

As the filing explains, in noisy environments it's often difficult to carry on a clear conversation using a mobile phone. A way to cut down on background noise would be a welcome development, and a microphone plastered on your throat, picking up your voice directly, makes sense.

The device in question could also be configured to transmit commands to your phone, also useful in a noisy environment and when one's hands are full. Power for the device could be supplied by a variety of methods, including "solar panel technology, capacitive technology, nanotechnology, or electro-mechanical technology."

"Optionally," the filing muses, "the electronic skin tattoo can further include a galvanic skin response detector to detect skin resistance of a user. It is contemplated that a user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth telling individual."

First, I'd like to point out that the idea of an electronic tattoo has been around for a while in science fiction. Consider the hand writer from John Varley's 1984 novel Steel Beach. I'd also mention Jack Vance's spray-on conductive film from his 1979 story The Face.

And don't forget about the palm flower from the 1967 novel Logan's Run.

The earliest mention of an implantable device like Google's lie detector tattoo is probably the emotional registers from Brian Aldiss' 1961 novel The Primal Urge. It describes the device as a small metal disk implanted in the forehead, which glows pink when the wearer is feeling sexual attraction.

All, in fact, he told himself, sighing, alarmingly ordinary. "Oh ye of the average everything," he addressed himself, improvising, as he frequently did, a rhymed oration, "Oh, ye of the average height, overtaken by taller folk, undertaken by smaller folků an average fate one might certainly call a joke."

One feature only was definitely not, as yet all events, ordinary: the shining circle. Three and a half centimetres in diameter, permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead. Made of a metal resembling stainless steel, its surface was slightly convex, so that it gave a vague and distorted image of the world before it.
(Read more about Brian Aldiss' emotion register (ER))

The most accurate predictor of an electronic tattoo in science fiction was probably the subdermal microchannels from Paul Di Filippo's 1985 story Stone Lives.

Via The Register; thanks to icecycle for contributing the reference story and the sfnal ancestor.

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