Feeds

Microsoft patents the body electric

Humans, pets as power supplies

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

After you shake hands with Microsoft, according to the company's critics, count your fingers. But the warning can be seen in a whole new light after Redmond was granted a patent for "transmitting power and data using the human body". It's a technology first demonstrated and patented by IBM in 1996, when Lou Gerstner used Comdex to exchange business cards by shaking hands. Lou's PAN was developed at IBM's Almaden lab, where researcher Thomas Zimmerman built on earlier exploratory work at MIT's Media Lab, where he was a researcher.

It uses the natural conductivity of the body to transmit a tiny electrical current. Data rates of equivalent to a 2.4 mbit/s modem were achieved in those first demonstrations. NTT DoCoMo filed its first patent in this area in 1996, and has been experimenting with the technology and claims speeds of 10 mbit/s. Another phone company, Nokia, has also been experimenting with near field electronics, and an industry forum was established by Nokia, Philips and Sony earlier this year. It isn't hard to see why it appeals to them, as both the handset manufacturers and wireless operators want to merge the phone with the credit card.

In its patent, Microsoft envisages the technology being used primarily for power, rather than data transfers. "The devices may be, e.g., a speaker, display, watch, keyboard, etc" it notes. So perhaps The Matrix will come true in one respect, with humans (or pets) acting as the power supply for machines. ®

Related stories

Nokia, Sony, Philips tout connectivity Utopia
MS demos Jetsons' kitchen on FoodTV

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.