Another pointer to the future in the world of wearable tech is this patent filed by Google-owned Motorola, for a throat ‘tattoo’, with the capability to send automatic alerts with location information to a monitoring centre or the emergency services (though the patent filing is drafted much wider!).
The ‘tattoo’ idea isn’t as dramatic as it first appears, as the filing states it can be applied to the skin via an adhesive, or embedded in a collar or neck-band. The way it would work is by capturing the sound from a person’s throat and transmitting it to a nearby smartphone or other Mobile Communications Device (MDC).
As regards its potential for use as a panic alert, the patent (which hasn’t yet been granted) states that based on various triggers such as words spoken (something like, ‘I need assistance’) the keyword or other trigger could cause the electronic skin tattoo to send a message to the MDC, which could trigger a further action, ‘…such as sending a message to emergency 911 (or its equivalent) with location information.’
Optionally, the electronic skin tattoo could include a galvanic skin response detector. Although most commonly associated with its use in polygraph/lie detection, this sensor which can indicate fear or anxiety could (independently or alongside a keyword) also trigger an automatic alert to a third party.
This editor doesn’t know for sure whether or not the inventors had an upgrade of emergency pendants in mind when they submitted the patent. Other tech websites such as Mashable, TechCrunch and Silicon Republic have focused on its noise cancelling capabilities and use as a lie detector. So although it’s probably best not to throw out your alarm buttons just yet, it could be worth watching this space!