Capacitive coupling, and the next big step
As the Ericsson team have now returned to their various homes (none of us are based in Vegas, believe it or not) we can reflect on the reviews we received after CES. Our demonstration of capacitive coupling, where data can be sent through our bodies from one device to another, created a lot of headlines.
“There are demonstrations that are mildly interesting, some that are impressive and some that are startling. Ericsson has managed to reach the third level” – The Wall Street Journal
In the early days of 3G, Ericsson introduced the technology but no one knew what to do with it. We could be doing something similar here. Why send data through your body? It’s the most direct link from a device in one hand to any other device we touch. And, it is the ultimate validator – no one can recreate the exact contents of our body.
Here’s how it works: very weak signals pass through the body from a smartphone for example to external devices such as electronic locks, printers, speakers or screens. The technology that Ericsson has developed can transmit data at a speed of 6-10Mbps, but our studies show that these speeds can be increased even further.
Under the headline “Ericsson CEO is a human HDMI cable, and he’s not afraid,” CNET wrote about the ease of being able to transfer “business-card data with a handshake, or transferring video from your phone to your television just by touching your set-top box.”
In fact, as a media relations representative at Ericsson, I did think there was something scary about introducing this demonstration at CES. What if people actually think we’re sending radio signals through our bodies? (It’s not radio; it’s capacitive coupling, which likes the water in our bodies). So what won me over? I tried it. I experienced the same kind of wonder that we all felt when we made our first video call over the internet. It’s so cool that it’s silly.
So the next thing for us is to develop this story, looking at how people might find new ways to use this kind of technology – which is exactly what we say about the Networked Society. We enable the network, the technology, and the foundation so that anyone, anywhere can innovate.