Microsoft has patented a cryptocurrency mining system that leverages human activities, including brain waves and body heat, when performing online tasks such as using search engines, chatbots, and reading ads. “A user can solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously,” the patent reads.
Microsoft Technology Licensing, the licensing arm of Microsoft Corp., has been granted an international patent for a “cryptocurrency system using body activity data.” The patent was published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on March 26. The application was filed on June 20 last year. “Human body activity associated with a task provided to a user may be used in a mining process of a cryptocurrency system,” the patent reads, adding as an example:
A brain wave or body heat emitted from the user when the user performs the task provided by an information or service provider, such as viewing advertisement or using certain internet services, can be used in the mining process.
Noting that the method described may “reduce computational energy for the mining process as well as make the mining process faster,” the patent details:
For example, instead of massive computation work required by some conventional cryptocurrency systems, data generated based on the body activity of the user can be a proof-of-work, and therefore, a user can solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously.
The patent describes a system where a device can verify whether “the body activity data satisfies one or more conditions set by the cryptocurrency system, and award cryptocurrency to the user whose body activity data is verified.”
Different types of sensors can be used to “measure or sense body activity or scan human body,” the patent explains. They include “functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners or sensors, electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) sensors, heart rate monitors, thermal sensors, optical sensors, radio frequency (RF) sensors, ultrasonic sensors, cameras, or any other sensor or scanner” that will do the same job.
The system may reward cryptocurrency to an owner or a task operator “for providing services, such as, search engines, chatbots, applications or websites, offering users access for free to paid contents (e.g. video and audio streaming or electric books), or sharing information or data with users,” the patent details.
The idea of mining cryptocurrencies using human body heat has previously been explored by other organizations. For example, Manuel Beltrán, founder of the Dutch Institute of Human Obsolescence, set up an experiment in 2018 to mine cryptocurrencies with a special bodysuit that harvested the human body heat into a sustainable energy source. The electricity generated was then fed to a computer to mine cryptocurrencies.