My sister can’t swim. Never got round to learning in her childhood and despite numerous attempts in adulthood she can’t seem to do much more than flail and struggle.

Her experience of failing in maturity due to not putting the time and effort in during formative years is exactly what many businesses try to avoid and explains why three companies, Sony, Google and Nokia, have filed some pretty interesting patents.

Sony Finger-Print Checking

Sick of sliding-to-unlock or forgetting your unlock pattern? Well Sony may have the answer for you. They’ve patented an ability to unlock your phone using your own fingerprint.

It’s a pretty interesting patent and makes a lot of sense. As touch screens become more responsive surely they’ll be able to detect the ridges and furrows of a fingerprint.

However the intrigue stops there. This has been done before. The Motorola Atrix was released last year and came with biometric security.

Google play God

Not content with collecting together data on the entirety of the human species via its search and location based services Google has patented the ability to advertise via local weather information.

In a way it’s a shame that Google are looking at this ability from a revenue-generating point of view. Clearly if they’d marketed the potential weather-analytics abilities of future mobile phones in a scientific way they’d have gained positive coverage. Instead most people collectively sigh at the idea of being marketed to in such a way.

Local weather analysis is a great idea for a mobile phone. Intelligent social apps could suggest you and near friends meet up at a local park for lunch, a running app could suggest to you the best route for dodging bad weather conditions and health apps could suggest you stay out of the sun when its too hot.


The most imaginative patent was filed by Nokia. At the Finnish firm they imagine a future where texts, calls and other notifications are delivered via tattoo.

Using special ferromagnetic ink your phone could send a signal that interacts with the magnetic metal giving you a vibrating sensation.

My only worry about this patent is how can the tattoo differentiate signals? Standing in the middle of a crowd, in head-to-toe-tattoos, with hundreds of phones around you receiving, sending or generally communicating could become a fairly strange experience. Additionally you can’t easily upgrade tattoos so when you upgrade your phone will you be left with pointless skin scarring?

Wooza’s Wise Words

Companies file patents from their employee’s ideas. It’s a small shame that for corporations to get ahead an employee’s imagination and their personal ambitions may be exploited. But, this aside, patents for the weird, wacky and wonderful ensure the big-names we love today will continue into the future. This is their groundwork to ensure they can swim as adults.

It’s important for mobile application developers to keep an eye on the future intentions of big players. The first application in the app-shop, itunes or Windows store with a fingerprint, weather related or tattoo-vibrating functionality will stand the best chance of making money.