Microsoft patents on-body networking

Microsoft has a patent on a new kind of network: Your body.

The software giant on Tuesday received a U.S. patent for a "method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body." An application for the patent, No. 6,754, 472, was filed in 2000. It proposes linking portable devices such as watches, keyboards, displays and speakers using the conductivity of "a body of a living creature."

A variety of devices could be powered selectively from a single power source carried on the body, via multiple power supply signals at different frequencies, according to the patent abstract. In addition, data and audio signals could be transmitted over that same power signal. The power source and devices would be connected to the body via electrodes.

In the patent, Microsoft said it set out to address the proliferation of small handheld or wearable devices with redundant parts for input and output of data, such as separate speakers in a watch, a radio and a PDA (personal digital assistant). If all those devices were networked, they could all share one speaker, the company suggested. Personal wireless networks have potential problems involving power consumption, interference and security, and batteries add weight and are inconvenient to replace or recharge, it wrote.

A Microsoft spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that the company was awarded the patent. Microsoft did not immediately provide any details of product plans for the technology.

The idea of using the body to transmit power among devices is not new, according to Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney. However, small batteries and wireless personal-area network technologies such as Bluetooth may be a more practical approach, he said.

"Think about the problems of always having to have things touching your body," Dulaney said. "I think this could be one of those technologies that's interesting but not practical in the long run." One area in which it might be useful is in medical devices, he added.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?