Remember that one time when Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it”? Well, apparently Google has just filed a new patent for…
Wait for it…
An electronic lie detector throat tattoo.
I wish I was just joking.
Google subsidiary Motorola filed U.S. patent application #20130297301 for the nanotechnology entitled, “Coupling an Electronic Skin Tattoo to a Mobile Communication Device” on November 7, 2013. It begins:
A system and method provides auxiliary voice input to a mobile communication device (MCD). The system comprises an electronic skin tattoo capable of being applied to a throat region of a body. The electronic skin tattoo can include an embedded microphone; a transceiver for enabling wireless communication with the MCD; and a power supply configured to receive energizing signals from a personal area network associated with the MCD. A controller is communicatively coupled to the power supply. The controller can be configured to receive a signal from the MCD to initiate reception of an audio stream picked up from the throat region of the body for subsequent audio detection by the MCD under an improved signal-to-noise ratio than without the employment of the electronic skin tattoo.
Mr. Schmidt, consider the creepy line officially crossed.
Let’s be honest. The idea of Google creating this new nanotech tattoo is freaking creepy in and of itself. The fact that it’s temporary (it’s applied with an adhesive) makes it only half a tick less creepy than that guy who wears a trench coat and visits children’s parks alone. However, it only gets creepier and the potential privacy invasion factor only gets more invasive from there.
First, there’s the fact that whoever controls the tattoo can send the signals it generates to all kinds of mobile devices:
Controller 101 of electronic tattoo 110 can be configured to execute programs or instructions to enable communicative coupling of the electronic tattoo to external electronic devices such as a smartphone, a gaming device, a tablet computer, a wearable computer, for example.
Obviously based on this description, the “controller” doesn’t necessarily have to mean the person wearing the tattoo.
…The throat microphone of electronic skin tattoo 200 can have its own identification and be selectable in a group setting, for example, where multiple users are wearing an electronic skin tattoo 200.
Even if that’s not supposed to be something in a dystopic transhumanist screenplay written by a Ray Kurzweil stalker, just thinking about a group of people walking around wearing electronic throat tattoos that can be remotely controlled to send data to portable devices is admittedly…have I used the adjective “creepy” yet?
Next there’s the express mention that the tattoo can also be applied to animals:
The electronic tattoo 110 can comprise audio circuitry 103 that enables reception of acoustic signals from a person’s throat when the electronic tattoo 110 is applied to a throat region of a body. Here it is contemplated that the electronic tattoo 110 can also be applied to an animal as well.
Okay, great, but why exactly are they contemplating that? “Hey kids, time to record your dog Sparky and send it to your Xbox!”
But by far, the optional special feature that wins the magical Google Creepfest of the Day Award is the part where the tattoo may be used as a high-tech lie detector:
Optionally, the electronic skin tattoo 200 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. [emphasis added]
Yep. Google just gets creepier and creepier every day. Billionaire Bill Gates, a creeper who also forked over a $1.1 million grant that would put galvanic skin response bracelets on school kids to measure their engagement, would be proud.
Never mind that lie detector tests can be easily beaten and there are even websites out there with instructions on how to do it.
This is about as lame as the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) $900 million team of Behavior Detection Officers who are supposedly trained to spot bad guys at America’s airports based on the hardcore, airtight evidence that is a human facial expression. Because, as everyone knows, nobody has any visible emotions whatsoever at the airport. (Also, this may come as a shock, but apparently the Government Accountability Office has determined that Behavior Detection Officers aren’t effective, either.)
This isn’t even the first creepy tattoo that some have likened to the Biblical Mark of the Beast coming out of Motorola. Former DARPA head (that’s the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the also creepy research and development arm of the Department of Defense) Regina Dugan, who currently works as Motorola’s head of “special projects” has already created electronic tattoos in addition to stomach acid-powered pills, both of which can literally authenticate a person like a password would (you know, in case you were still wondering what to get grandma for Christmas this year).
It’s already bad enough Google created the privacy nightmare known as Google Glass, which sadly, even Michael Chertoff — you know, the guy behind those oh-so-enjoyable naked body scanners the TSA ogles us through at our airports — well even he said there were numerous privacy concerns there. Actually, he equated the video camera-equipped eyeglasses to millions of Americans walking around with spy drones on their heads.
Can’t wait to see the commercial for these throat tattoos, by the way. I’m sure it won’t be, you know, creepy or anything.