Those wearing tattoos were once seen as being lower class citizens, troublemakers, outlaws, and overall a menace to society. Luckily, the perception of tattoos has changed a lot, lifting this art form among the others and pushing it into the mainstream.
Today, being tattooed is no longer a sign of rebellion but an accepted and appreciated form of body art – and it can go way beyond that. In the future, tattoos may no longer be a mere decoration – they might even become an important part of healthcare and technology.
Tattoos to monitor your health
A group of Swiss doctors from the ETH Zurich University have created a tattoos that can detect cancer. Well, actually, it can detect a sign that can indicate cancer – the sudden rise in the calcium levels of the body. The system invented by the Swiss will not be visible normally but when it detects the buildup of calcium in your body, it will reveal itself as a spot similar to a mole. Scientists at Harvard and the MIT have engaged in an even more ambitious project: to create tattoo inks that change color according to various changes in the wearer’s body. One of their inks, for example, changes color when the blood glucose rises (an early indicator of diabetes), another one grows more intense if the body starts to dehydrate.
Tattoos and technology
A few years ago, scientists from the MIT together with their partners from Microsoft Research have come up with a temporary tattoo capable of communicating with electronics such as laptops and smartphones. Called DuoSkin, this temporary tattoo uses inexpensive gold leaf and silicon to create an interface on the surface of the skin, and touching it in certain ways can transmit various signals and commands to electronics. And they are not “one-size-fits-all” either – these smart tattoos can be customized to the users’ needs… and taste. Temporary “smart” tattoos are not a novelty anymore: options exist for tats that detect how tired your muscles are to contact lenses that measure your blood sugar and many more.
The future of smart tattoos and body modification
With all these advances in technology, we might be able to give body art even more practical use. On one hand, you will have a choice of stylish and beautiful patterns to put on your skin. On the other, together with the emerging augmented reality technology, you will likely be able to use your tats as an interface for your digital life, interacting with your computer through gestures and seeing the results on your smart glasses. Not to mention the fact that, with the right medical tattoo and a smartphone app, you will be able to detect the earliest signs of some serious conditions and get potentially life-saving help much sooner.