Could Microsoft Turn Our Bodies into Antennas?

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You know all that slightly eerie but kinda cool stuff you learned in grade school about the body’s latent electromagnetic energy field? Turns out your house generates something similar (no surprise) courtesy everything with an electrical pulse contained both within, from gizmos and gadgetry to the wiring in the walls.

Forget alternative nonsense about crystals and magnets, Microsoft’s apparently found a scientific way to tap your abode’s invisible energy reservoirs using simple field-leveraging techniques. All you need to interact with the field is a special body sensor that Microsoft says might eventually fit inside a mobile phone.

Imagine, as New Scientist does, the walls in your home responding to your touch, the lights coming up or dimming incrementally as you tap lightly on the painted surface. Imagine the technology tracking you without cameras—less Kinect than “human antenna”—thus allowing for a truly untethered “whole-room gaming experience” (as Microsoft researcher Gabe Cohn puts it).

Now imagine it working outside, anywhere you find power lines, say walking to a bus stop and tapping a sign to trigger a transit service that texts you bus arrival times.

From The Clapper to The Tapper, looks like we’re far afield of 1985’s sound-based novelties.