NTT Firmo transmits data through the skin

by Dhiram Shah

We have seen bone conduction earphones which transmit sound waves directly to the inner ear through the bones of the skull. If you thought that was cool then how about a device that can transmit data through the skin. I am not talking about some concept device but an actual product which is available for purchase. Japanese Telecom giant NTT is selling the ‘Firmo’ a device that transmits data across the surface of the human body and lets users communicate with electronic devices simply by touching them. The device consists of a card sized transmitter which generates a weak AC electrical field that extends through out the body. When the user touches an object or device embedded with a compatible receiver the electrical signal is converted back to data and read by the device.

Currently Firmo transmits data at 230 kbps, but NTT is working on a low cost version that transmits data at 10 mbps. Firmo is based on NTT’s RedTacton human area network (HAN) technology, which is designed to allow convenient human-machine data exchange through natural physical contact — even through clothing, gloves and shoes. A set of 5 transmitters and one receiver costs a whopping 800,000 Yen ($ 8000).
So how will this work in the future. You walk up to a movie store, choose the movie, make the payment, touch the receiver which downloads the movie through your skin, go home, touch the media player and Voila.

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