Human Area Network 2.0

November 9, 2009 · Posted in Featured, Personal, TV 


Click, BBC’s flagship technology program recently traveled to Japan showing a phone that transfers data through your body to a computer. This technology is called RedTacton and has been developed by Japanese scientists of Nippon Telegraph & Telecom. In a nutshell: RedTacton technology turns your body, your clothes, your shoes and even the floor your standing on into an ‘adsl cable’ that transfers data wirelessly to other RedTacton enabled devices.

Nearly two years ago I was fortunate enough to visit the RedTacton lab in Japan for the Dutch Television show ‘In de Ban van het Ding’…

Before I left for Japan The Human Area Network sounded very promising. I envisioned going to a job interview, shaking the hand of my future boss  while transferring my CV and other personal profiles from my smartphone in my pocket directly and wirelessly to his mobile and computer just by touch.


Transfer data by touch

When I arrived at the lab in Japan reality set in. Though the scientists had come up with astonishing technology, at the time they missed the creative vision of the killer app that would catapult RedTacton into mainstream use.

They showed me mostly security related applications and it just didn’t do it for me. For example, I carried a RedTacton card in my pocket and by touch a safe would identify me as the authorized person to open the safe. Likewise I could print documents from a laptop to a printer by touching it. Sure the technology itself impressed me but the applications…  I wasn’t astonished and said so on the show. Without a killer app I didn’t see RedTacton technology touching our lives in the any near future.

Now, two years later, after seeing a host of the Click team transferring a photo from a mockup mobile to a computer merely by touch, I think RedTacton has a great potential after all. RedTacton uses the ultra weak electric field naturally emitted on your body’s surface to transfer data. It explains why the bits and bytes may seem to travel right through your body, clothing and floor but in reality travel around your body through the electric field. The signal is supposedly safe and pretty fast too. Speeds of up to 10Mbps can be reached.


RedTacton wireless MP3 player

Since then, the RedTacton scientist have come up with a variety of concepts for potential killer apps. With RedTacton you don’t need to embed conventional wireless technology in future smart textiles. Put in your RedTacton wireless earphones and leave your iPod or smartphone in your pocket. Granted, we have bluetooth. But with RedTacton you don’t have to pair the devices: what you touch is yours. Want to share music with girlfriend in the train? All she has to do is hold your hand and listen to your music. Yes, RedTacton transfers through multiple bodies.

RedTacton in the body

RedTacton in the body

And what about clothing full of sensors monitoring your healthor preventing accidental medicine ingestion by making RedTacton enabled medicine bottles? Smart medicine bottles would keep track of dosage, sounding an alarm when the wrong dosage is taken or the wrong patient takes the wrong medicine. At the shop touching a digital camera, for instance, could instantly display the specs on your smartphone. Or you car knows it’s you by touch alone. The list of applications seems limitless.

Of course this type of innovation will also bring the obvious issues such as security with it. What if I’m carrying unsecured confidential documents on my RedTacton enabled smartphone in my coat pocket and someone brushes against me while I’m standing in an overcrowded subway? Will RedTacton be cyber pick-pocketing of the 21st century? Who knows? As skeptical as I was after visiting the lab two years ago, I’m now convinced this technology will, sooner or later, touch our lives as it brings us one step closer to true ubiquitious computing.

If you want to take a peek at my visit to the RedTacton lab, fast forward to minute 11.40 of this the video.


One Response to “Human Area Network 2.0”

  1. alan on October 5th, 2011 07:50

    is there any harm to the human body

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