Data at Your Fingertips

Anyone who remembers the awful 1995 movie Johnny Mnemonic would recall the movie’s premise: that human “data couriers” could store data in the unused parts of their brains, carry the data around, and then deliver it to a rich billionaire (what other kind is there?) who had some desperate need or other for his data to wallow for a while in a person’s “wetware” rather than simply be copied onto a USB drive and popped in the mail (for example).

Anyway, the reason why I’ve dug up such a poor movie (and with such a contrived plotline) from its shallow grave is a news story about how Japanese researchers have been using femtosecond laser pulses to write data into human fingernails.

So, not so much Johnny Mnemonic as Johnny Digits.

I read the article with growing excitement at the potential of this new technology... until the final paragraph where it was revealed that the technique currently doesn’t work with fingernails that are “still attached to the finger”. Oh, well.

Still, there’s potentially a “cybergeeky” future there with human data couriers pouring their nail clippings into an envelope and running across town with them. Though not quite as glamorous, it might even make for a better movie.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.