Before text messaging and when I was a kid, my classmates and I would write secret messages on paper and pass it around the class until it reached its destination. Teachers got wise and secrets got exposed. Then came the sidekick and text messaging. Concealing sidekicks and phones while texting required more stealth. However, the risk of a teacher finding out the messages sent was no longer a problem. Now, thanks to AT&T’s U.S. Patent No. 8908894 (the ‘894 Patent), students no longer need to worry about devices being taken away since all it takes is a touch to transfer and communicate messages.
The ‘894 Patent details a device that transfers signals through the body. The patented ‘894 device sends signals through the body using vibrations sent through a piezo-electric transducer. A piezo-electric transducer is a device that converts electrical energy to mechanical vibrations and back to electrical energy. The transducer loses minimal vibrations which allows the signal to continue to travel through the human body and into a phone or other electric device.
Why Transfer Data Through the Body
People typically use wireless technologies for short-range data transfer and this presents significant security challenges. When a malicious hacker compromises a system, there is the potential of exposing data to an adversary again in the future. Furthermore, these wireless systems are susceptible to attacks by eavesdroppers with powerful, directional antennas.
How This Device Transfers Data Through the Body
The ‘894 patent provides a way to protect a wireless communication system that secures data by transferring a data signal through the bones and skin of a human user. It uses a contact microphone to send vibrations that contained a data signal through a user’s body. This creates a more secure wireless signal if a user was holding both communicating devices. The ‘894 patent also suggests that data communications could occur through two human bodies making physical contact while each holds a separate device.
The device uses a signal that modulates data that it identified one device transfers to another. It then provides a signal to a sensor with the first device and transmits a signal through a user’s body to the second device. Basically, instead of two people pulling out their phones to transfer info they can just give each other a hug or high-five. AT&T received the ‘894 Patent in 2011 so we can expect to see this technology in devices in the near future.
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