just last week, an interesting patent was granted (to Microsoft Corp. as assignee) for “Method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body”, described as follows in its abstract:
Methods and apparatus for distributing power and data to devices coupled to the human body are described. The human body is used as a conductive medium, e.g., a bus, over which power and/or data is distributed. Power is distributed by coupling a power source to the human body via a first set of electrodes. One or more devise to be powered, e.g., peripheral devices, are also coupled to the human body via additional sets of electrodes. The devices may be, e.g., a speaker, display, watch, keyboard, etc. A pulsed DC signal or AC signal may be used as the power source. By using multiple power supply signals of differing frequencies, different devices can be selectively powered. Digital data and/or other information signals, e.g., audio signals, can be modulated on the power signal using frequency and/or amplitude modulation techniques.
i'm no lawyer and i'm certainly not qualified to render a competent legal opinion but i would have thought that the sharp folks over at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office would have rejected this claim outright because its novelty was destroyed by the existence of prior art from The Six Million Dollar Man television series. of course, we're using the term “art” very loosely where that show is concerned (for those that remember it)...
if you're not familiar with the term “prior art”, there is an excellent explanation that includes a totally cool story about a patent application for a method to recover sunken ships that was rejected because of the prior art of a 1949 Donald Duck episode! This is from the highly recommended Ius Mentis (it's Latin for “legal rights on mental things”) Web site whose purpose is to clue technoids about the law (and clue lawyers about tech).