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Handhelds Hardware

Exchange Email Addresses With A Handshake 435

Eye of the Frog writes "Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and its subsidiary NTT DoCoMo Inc. have developed a device that attaches to your PDA which uses the body's conductivity to transmit data at an amazing 10 megabits per second."
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Exchange Email Addresses With A Handshake

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  • by Bimkins ( 242641 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:40PM (#4400376)
    "Honest, your honor. I wasn't grabbing her. I was just giving her my telephone number!"
  • Amazing! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ActiveSX ( 301342 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:40PM (#4400377) Homepage
    And if we could get a long chain of people, maybe we could use them instead of ethernet cable!
  • by jimson ( 516491 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:40PM (#4400378) Homepage
    At least in transfer rates........
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:41PM (#4400382) Journal
    which uses the body's conductivity to transmit data at an amazing 10 megabits per second

    Oh, god. Imagine the new possibilities for porn.
  • by bjschrock ( 557973 ) <<bschrock> <at> <>> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:41PM (#4400385)
    So, if a bunch of people join hands, do they become a Beowolf cluster?
    • might work... (Score:2, Informative)

      by ryochiji ( 453715 )
      In a crowded train in Tokyo, you'd have a network with up to 50 nodes. That could be some serious computing power there (assuming that processing power of phones and PDAs increase significantly).
  • by spellcheckur ( 253528 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:41PM (#4400387)
    ...and you'll now be able to download ripped DVDs during fornication!

    Oh, wait... hmmm... I wonder which I'll need first... a DVD player, or a girlfriend.

    • by Cadre ( 11051 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:46PM (#4400426) Homepage
      download ripped DVDs during fornication

      Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, CatSex...

    • And Hollywood demand lawmakers pass manditory "no touching" laws.

      Be sure to check out Lawrence Lessig's freeculture speech [].

    • Re:Napster This! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TellarHK ( 159748 )
      Nope, I don't think that's going to happen. Why? When's the last time you copied a DVD rip over a 10Mbit connection in the three or four minutes the average male lasts? And I think I'm being generous here. Not evem MPEG-4 will make up for the trigger-happiness of most guys.
  • by LowAmmoWarning ( 539099 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:41PM (#4400389)
    How about the people with pace makers? Are they going to have a warning label on the product or even try testing the product with them? Also, how about any other medical conditions that might present themselves due to this technology?
    • by mclearn ( 86140 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:09AM (#4400575) Homepage
      The article states that the device uses the body's natural conductivity. Hence, there should be no issues regarding those with pace-makers.
      • by LinuxInDallas ( 73952 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:18AM (#4400625)
        Pacemakers and other implantables typically communicate with external devices using low power RF signals. It's quite possible that this networking could interfere with operation of the device. There are rumors of airport security x-ray machines causing havoc in some types of devices. It's the responsibility of the medical device manufacturer to make sure an implant meets certain criteria for EMI/RFI but those requirements are not all that strenuous to meet.
        • This is an urban myth. Pacemakers are generally unaffected by cellphones, microwaves, etc.

          Another common misconception about pacemakers this the notion that if they go out of commission the person would have an immediate heart attack. Not true. A pacemaker on kicks in when the subjects heartrate falls out the healthy range. It spends most of it's time watching the heart and waiting.

          I know this because my cousin has one.
    • I would assume this is a high frequency electricity (10 mbits/second is a lot of info). High frequency electricity will travel over the surface without penatrating, so it should not be an issue.

      National geographic had a guy standing on a charged plat, shooting electricity that went through (over) him into the rod, it was cool.

      People with pacemakers don't die from static shocks, I find it hard to believe that people would use a technology that was more disruptive then that.
      • People with pacemakers don't die from static shocks, I find it hard to believe that people would use a technology that was more disruptive then that.

        As long as people with pacemakers stay away from my bulk eraser :)

        (seriously, my bulk eraser even has a warning sticker that warns about it)

    • Modern peacemakers use all-natural, organic material which has not been shown to be affected by any electromagnetic fields in the area. In 100% of use cases the peacemaker was able to adapt to the environment and perform its function.
  • Is it just me, or do seeing the words Exchange and Email in the same sentence make you shiver?

    I was expecting another word like 'virus' or 'vulnerability' in that sentence.

  • by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:44PM (#4400413) Homepage
    Now you can transfer computer viruses as easy as the old fashioned biological kind.

    I can see the T-Shirts now, "Don't touch me! I'm infected with Code Red!"
    • by kyletinsley ( 575229 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @03:04AM (#4401190) Homepage
      Seriously, I think this new technology could be used in some interesting ways. I'm waiting for someone to work it into the electric chairs used on death row, for a particularly fitting punishment for certain individuals...

      "Jerry Bruckheimer, for your crimes against humanity, this court orders you to be put to death via electric chair. 100 million copies of Armageddon will be digitally sent through your body each second until you are sufficiently fried. And may God have mercy on your crap-movie making ass..."
  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:45PM (#4400416) Homepage Journal
    If you're close enough to TOUCH the person... why not just give a business card or TALK to the person???
    • How about you use it for electonic business cards. People tend to lose real business cards and an electronic business card would cut down on cost. What if by bumping into somebody you gave them your business card? Or how about even using it as a personal identification system in which when you go to your company it verifies its informatoin w/ the information that you are carying w/ you. I'm sure a security card such as this transmitted by just touch could become useful in numerous applications...
    • They'll probably do that anyway. In Japan, giving a business card to another person is almost ceremonial, so I doubt that it'll give way to electronic data transfer. Besides, knowing how marketing exaggerates things, you probably have to grab hold of the other person's hand, open your networking program, wait for a connection to be verified, do the hokey-pokey, then have the file sent. Interesting, but perhaps a ways away from practical use.
    • by dirvish ( 574948 ) <dirvish&foundnews,com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:47AM (#4400764) Homepage Journal
      Hey man. We gotta save the forests man. Down with dead trees (paper) man.
    • A business card that can hold 1.25MiB of binary data? (actually, since it would take a few seconds to transfer it would have to hold at least 6MiB to be equivalent). I guess that's possible with special CD-Rs but they have to be prepared ahead of time, and if you wanted to do something like a multiplayer game the latency would be too much. Or do you talk really really fast?
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:48PM (#4400442)
    This looks like an interesting technology, but what about the security implications? Suppose in ten years, everybody carries around a tiny device--the futuristic counterpart to today's cellphones--which acts as a phone, voice recorder/MP3 player, PDA, digital still/video camera, electronic wallet, and even contains the digital keys to your house, car, and whatever. All you have to do is touch the doorknob to your house and it'll read the keys from your device and unlock automatically.

    Now ask yourself this: What's to stop crackers from using a root-kit that operates through handshakes to steal information from your electronic device and then use that information to break into your stuff? Is this another one of those technologies that will become totally critical in our everyday lives, and that will also become a huge security problem?

    • ``What's to stop crackers...''
      Don't use the technology. Same thing with all those password managers today. If you are concerned about their security, just say no.

      It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not
      desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off.
      -- Woody Allen
  • Seen this...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:48PM (#4400445) Homepage Journal
    I've seen this sort of thing thing demonstrated years ago on TLC or the Discovery Channel.

    The exception was that it was planned to be a device placed in the shoe which would store the information, like a business card's worth of info.

    Really, I can't think of a better way of transmitting your public key to someone. Have a sit down with the boss of the family and shake hands. Write your messages on your PDA and send them to the person through IR or with another touch.

    Imagine the human-to-human e-mail system or TCP/IP over Homo Sapiens Sapiens; HSS for short. Write an e-mail with a public key attached and it travels from person to person via handshake until it reaches the person who's key is the same and they in turn could decode the message with their secret key.

    Damn... maybe I should patent my system.

    • by mclearn ( 86140 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:59PM (#4400513) Homepage
      In a similar vein, it could be used to determine how interconnected people are -- sort of like that degrees of separation email experiment being conducted at Columbia University (Smallworld) [].
    • Re:Seen this...? (Score:2, Informative)

      by dacarr ( 562277 )
      There used to be something like what you described, but it didn't involve people shaking hands; rather it was computers.

      It was called UUCP and there's a reason that for the most part it is no longer used. Two words: IT SUCKED.

    • Re:Seen this...? (Score:2, Informative)

      by machowsk ( 201279 )
      I remember reading about this or seeing it on TV or something several years ago. MIT's media lab were playing around with this idea and got it working, I believe. (Although I'm not sure if they got 10Mbps throughput) They were storing the data in chips inserted inside shoes. Apparently they thought that they could harness some excess energy in your shoes when you walk to power the chips. Here's [] an older article mentioning it. And here's [] another. (Best I could find.)
    • Yup, from somewhere in the shady corners of my mind I distinctly recall IBM research working on a Personal Area Network (PAN). I think I might've even read about it on slashdot a couple years ago.

      Sure enough a, Google search turns up this page [] on PANs, circa 1996.

      So how can NTT claim they "developed" the technology?

      • So how can NTT claim they "developed" the technology?

        They didn't claim to have developed the technology itself, but rather a device using that technology (the linked article is a overhyped translation of the original [], which explicitly says "device"). It's like the difference between saying "we can use exploding gas to make horseless carriages move" and actually building a Model T. Or something like that.

    • by LadyLucky ( 546115 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @04:27AM (#4401365) Homepage
      Really, I can't think of a better way of transmitting your public key to someone.

      So this would be some sort of handshake protocol then?

  • by PissingInTheWind ( 573929 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:49PM (#4400453)
    at 10Mb/s our body could transmit it's own DNA in 1 hour and 41 minutes.

    9 months is a long time compared to that...
  • A thought... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Derg ( 557233 )
    To quote the Article:
    It could also get a computer to start up with the proper settings as soon as the user sat down, the paper said.

    I think this would be a benefit for both computer security and for true multi-user desktop environments, as well as network access.. Instead of a password, you need the hardware device to access a specific account. then again, it is just one more device to lose/break/power/carry.

    Just a thought..

  • It gives a whole new meaning to "hands around the world". Now where to find volunteers...

  • Dark club, a whisper in your ear.

    "I know what you like".

    A fleeting touch verifies it- she sure does.

    So, she settles down next to you, and rests her hand on your leg. It can't be the data-transmission that's making you shiver, you've done this before.

    A few breathless minutes later, she smiles, and kisses you lightly on the forehead.

    "Keep the faith."

    You know you will. After all, a quick glance at your PDA shows that you've benefitted twice tonight.
    • That was a great story, but it should've been called something like "Alcoholic Mutants Find Love". ;)

      Since we're going down the sci-fi path... This article reminded me more of the IR palm implants in Greg Egan's "Quarantine". Great book for the neural mods and other tech gadgets.

      But exchanging email addresses with a handshake sounds more like someone's trying to create an evil, networking, Tony Robbins fueled, cyborg-spammer from hell. Like Skynet, but with free university degrees and penis enlarging creams...
  • by spudwiser ( 124577 ) <spudwiser@hotmai ... m minus math_god> on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:53PM (#4400478) Journal
    Yes, but in order to reach full 10mbps you have to have a diet rich in copper.
    • How about gold or silver?

      Silver, the best conductor, would be great at improving throughput. It is also one of the modern-day snake oils in the form of "colloidal silver" which was popular during that Y2K thing as it was believed to prevent you from getting sick. Stan Jones, the libertarian senate candidate from Montana, made his own concoction and drank it []. It ends up, if you consume enough, your skin will turn a pale blueish-grey and you will look like you are dead. That's what you get for beleiving Y2K hype...

      Also, at Wegman's today, I saw some "7 Layer Opera Cake," topped with 23-carat gold leaf. The lady in charge of all the delicious treats asured me that the gold is in fact edible, and adds a distinct taste to the cake. Intrigued, I bought the $4USD delicacy (which was a whole 100 cubic cm in volume). It was really good, but I'm sure the gold was entirly unnecessary (I could detect no difference in the taste in the bites with the gold leaf). I should have tested the resistance of my skin with my multimeter both before and a while after eating the cake. What would really be funny is if it did in fact make a difference. Maybe I'll try again sometime.

      You might want to try the cake (very yummy, even for 4 bucks), but keep away from the colloidal silver stuff.
  • by Bobulusman ( 467474 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:54PM (#4400483)
    The DMCA has announced that skin is now illegal.
  • stuff (Score:3, Funny)

    by Raven42rac ( 448205 ) on Sunday October 06, 2002 @11:54PM (#4400487)
    damnit, thats no ethernet cable, why, its people, NTT is people I tell you, people!
  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:04AM (#4400545) Homepage
    Problems: Stores might rig their doornobs to download your personal information as you go in the store. Privacy issue. Or someone could touch you, and have all your information stored. Think potential stalkers/criminals/etc. Scary. Of course you could always turn it off, I suppose, but if you forget it's a problem. I assume I'm not the only absent minded human around.

    However, there are some interesting possibilities:

    A credit card reader could read your body's electrical signal, as it is also scanning the card. Added consumer security. Even cooler would be if each person had a unique electrical signal their body generates, but I don't know anything about that. Either way, interesting.

    You could make long distance calls from anywhere, and have the phone read your calling card number automatically when you pick up the phone.

    Possibility of electronic "keys" for car/house stored in PDA. Not so good if PDA is lost or crashes, but if you can call the company and say "My PDA is gone - please scramble my house key codes until we can resolve the issue" it might work. Locking the house would be great - simply disable the electronic circuit from the inside and there is no lock to pick. As for someone who tries to crack it while you're out, simply have the system stop taking input for five seconds if it gets a bad signal. With billions of possibilities at five seconds a try, it wouldn't work real well trying to crack it. If you're paranoid, have it take thirty seconds. No more fumbling with keys or those little remote control keychains, either - just touch and open.

    Many issues to resolve, but some very cool possibilities as well.
    • Why has no one considered that there would have to be some consent of the person transmitting the data? It's not like the PDA is going to be constantly broadcasting. Even if this technology is made widely available, I sincerely doubt that there will ever be privacy issues with people stealing your email address right from the palm of your hand.
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:04AM (#4400549) Homepage
    Does anybody else think this sounds just a teensy bit flaky? The article says the connection works through clothing ... "Apparel and handbags have their own conductivity, allowing an electrical connection to a PDA that can remain in one's pocket..." Huh?? 10 mbps using the cloth of my pocket as a conductor??

    I have a suspicion that is getting one slipped to them. The closest Google result I could get with "NTT NoCoMo skin" is this article [] about a cell phone that conducts sound through bone and cartilage, enabling you to listen to the call by sticking your finger in your ear.

    Uhhh, okie dokie.
    • Does anybody else think this sounds just a teensy bit flaky?


      Although, I am telling you right now, if we greased our palms with conducting paste, and gripped REALLY hard, we could get down to 100 kOhms in conductance. Then we deal with noise. Now, most of the connecting tissue is stricly low-pass (which is a bitch for high bandwidth issues), and noise is in the millivolts range. To add insult to injury, most of the signal loss will occur in the skin itself, so this application is a really tough one. I think in the lab you could probably rig it to transmit the amount of info in a business card, maybe.

      OTOH, detecting a handshake and using that to trigger an IR linkup seems fairly easy.

    • I have a suspicion that is getting one slipped to them. The closest Google result I could get with "NTT NoCoMo skin" is this article about a cell phone that conducts sound through bone and cartilage, enabling you to listen to the call by sticking your finger in your ear.

      Maybe you could try actually reading the article? It clearly states the source of the news, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun [], and in fact the article is right at the top of the "companies" section (link [], or Fish translation []).

    • This sounds quite close to tech a friend of mine was working on (before getting laid off) a few years back.

      If I remember correctly, it actually worked by modulating a signal over the electrical field near your skin, and although the sensor didn't have to touch skin, it worked better if it did.
  • From Japan? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zwoelfk ( 586211 )
    Doesn't anyone else find it odd that this was developed in Japan of all places? Living there, I don't know when the last time I shook hands with someone was. At least this could be handy for exchanging information with women... because I don't when when the last time I had (physical) contact with a man.

  • If I were to record a digital sample of my voice at 10MBps, wouldn't I be transferring data at 10MBps by using my body?
  • New way to transfer a virus?

    Not only a bio-bug, but also e-bugs.
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:19AM (#4400636) Homepage

    Oh great, more spam, just lovely. And they'll say I opted-in, too ... with my handshake.

  • Spam? (Score:3, Funny)

    by udecker ( 251844 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:35AM (#4400699)
    Now the spammers will just run around slapping people.
    • Re:Spam? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Maran ( 151221 )
      "Now the spammers will just run around slapping people."

      Yes, but then there'd be a wonderful reason for responding.

      No slap I slap am slap not slap interested slap but slap thanks slap anyway slap.

  • Must be sending one of those big raytraced spinning animgifs for that to be used.

    Unless handshaking involves flicking a fly off someone.
  • Hands Across America [] was an early trial for this technology. It was determined that fiber optics would be more cost effective for long haul data transmission.
  • Body condo^H^H^H^H^H gloves to prevent unauthorised virii being transmited by human contact.
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @01:40AM (#4400975) Journal
    ...but some of the test subjects' "antenna" wasn't quite long enough for decent reception.
  • Personal Area Networks [].

    I've seen comments about pacemakers and safety of this technology. Quoted from the page above:
    The current used is one-billionth of an amp (one nanoamp), which is lower than the natural currents already in the body. In fact, the electrical field created by running a comb through hair is more than 1,000 times greater than that being used by PAN technology.
  • Snow Crash (Score:3, Funny)

    by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <> on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:27AM (#4401113) Homepage Journal
    This is sooo Snow Crash. Now, not only can you rub against someone and catch a cold, you can get viruses in your beltwares as well. Your cellphone will set up conference calls to bad payporn when you try to call your mom, your watch will continually blink 06:66 and set off the alarm at odd hours and your PDA will make an appointment for a Golden Shower in your own office by a smelly Bill Gates-lookalike in drag really, really early on Monday morning. Crap, there goes the whole week.

    Just another reason to keep wearing my rubber gloves. *snap*

  • Some Clarifications (Score:5, Informative)

    by kepart ( 30621 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:34AM (#4401125) Homepage
    I've been doing my PhD work on systems like this (Intrabody Communication). It does work! However, there are a number of issues, some of which aren't clear from the article.

    First, 10 Mbps is possible, but that's getting near the theoretical limit. The datarate is limited by the bandwidth, and the bandwidth is limited by the fact that around 50MHz, the signal wavelength is about four times the size of a person, which means the person turns into an antenna, and the whole system becomes essentially a short range radio.

    Second, because these systems operate in the near field, the signal travels through a current loop, and not as plane waves in free space. This means that there has to be some kind of grounding path for current to flow back to the transmitter after going through the person. This is why it works so well to put transceivers in shoes -- the ground path can flow through earth ground (or any conductive material in the floor). For devices held in hands, the very small (femtofarad) capacitance of free space is enough, but the signal does suffer more from noise. Devices in purses, etc. also have this problem, and may have difficulty establishing the ground connection depending on the material the purse is made from and the other objects inside it.

    One issue that to my knowledge has not been addressed very well is guaranteeing that the signal is received during--and only during--physical contact. There is a large dependence of signal strength on geometry. The devices I've constructed can communicate when they're brought near (~10 cm) of each other, touching or not. There are a few solutions, such as looking at jumps in signal strength, but they tend to be confused when a person without a transceiver happens to touch the object, and a person with a transceiver is nearby. I'm currently working on this problem for my PhD dissertation, so if you have any good ideas or know of related work, I'd love to hear from you.

    If you'd like to read more, the first (and most detailed) publication I know about on this idea was Thomas Zimmerman's Masters Thesis at the MIT AI Lab. You find it here: es/95.09.zimmerman.pdf []

    Kurt Partridge
    Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering
    University of Washington
    Seattle, WA 98195

  • Hello, Bob [], long time no see. *shake hands*. Welcome, Klez []. Jeff [] too! Slapper [], remember to behave yourself. As it seems everyone is here, could you please give the opening speech, Alex [].
  • by Ainu ( 135288 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:54AM (#4401168)
    Does this mean latex is now a firewall?
  • by Ian Peon ( 232360 ) <`ian' `at' `'> on Monday October 07, 2002 @03:04AM (#4401191)
    A friend of mine had told me (a few years ago) about how his company was working on ways to use body conductivity and the electical fields surrounding our bodies to pass data. This article sounds very familiar.

    Passing data from one person to another was one of the uses, but the other I found much more interesting.

    Imagine a personal device "cloud" where your PDA, watch, and cell phone all pass data back and forth. Your watch acts as a small display for your cell and/or your PDA and receives time updates via the cell. Your PDA uses the cell for data calls. Your cell uses your PDA to look up names and numbers. All (theoretically ;) seamlessly.

    Take it a step further, and create small modules that plug into this personal network. Maybe a keychain of functions all accessable through your watch or PDA. Maybe carry a Quake quarter in your pocket.

    Nokia make a lot of press with putting a camera in a cell phone. I haven't looked at the spec, but I'd imagine that like many multi-function devices, it doesn't do either well. Imagine your (dedicated to task) camera taking pics, and storing them on another device (is that smart card in your wallet or are you just happy to see me?), previewing the pics on your phone and sending them from there. You could easily give them to someone else with a handshake.

    Quite a lot of possibility. I had often thought that the business card exchange application was the least exciting...

  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @03:59AM (#4401306)
    3001 -- exchanging personal information by touch of the palm.

    Has he thought of everything?
  • by Perdo ( 151843 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @04:36AM (#4401384) Homepage Journal
    In a healthy male:

    30-60 million sperm per cc of semen.

    2-5 cc's of semen.

    Up to 228 gigabytes of data in about 5 seconds.

    or about 365 gigabits per second.

    Men like computers because they are impotent compared to us.

    The monthly estrus cycle equates to about 2.5 kb/s

    Even a phone modem is faster than a woman.
  • by i chose quality ( 413813 ) on Monday October 07, 2002 @05:04AM (#4401438)

    Suzy [Build 07/19/75]
    Status: horny


MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.