Everyone has experienced a time when they felt the buzz of their phone in their pocket at a time when to, er, pull it out would be inappropriate. Like at a meeting, dinner with the in-laws or a tense game of Russian Roulette.
But what if you were expecting a very important call - for example, how could you tell the difference between an emergency and a call from a friend to tell you who has been voted off the X Factor?
Although some would argue those are one and the same, Blackberry maker RIM is reportedly seeking a patent on a rather strange technology that utilises the fascinating opportunities offered by piezoelectrics - which may be able to solve important / not important call dilemmas.
Named SkinDisplay, it is an idea developed during a year-long research project involving designer Clara Gaggero and BlackBerry manufacturer RIM.
The aim of the project is to look at methods in which to “mimic real life interruptions, making smartphone alerts richer, more personal and less binary.”
One of the main ideas is to make interaction with a phone more discrete, leading to the concept of a method of allowing a mobile user to receive information without having to actually look at their phone.
With this in mind, a method was devised where the user could touch a raised message that appears on the back of the phone with details such as the caller’s identity, the reason for the call and how urgent it is.
The user would be able to press their hand against the device, leaving an imprint in their skin that can be secretly read without the need to brandish the handset. The message could then easily be rubbed away after being read.
Whether or not this is something that RIM is seriously looking to develop on SkinDisplay is not clear. Although it remains a concept at the moment, it is known that it would be possible to implement using existing piezoelectric methods.