The Advancement of ELECTRONIC TATTOOS
Stay Connected or How Electronic Tattoo Turns Your Skin Into a Screen
Electronic, or connected, tattoos are epidermal electronics. These tattoos are thin, flexible patches of rubber or film that contain electrical components made of silicon wires. These elastic materials serve as a temporary tattoo which adheres firmly to your skin and stays in place for a few days.
Once in place, the electronic tattoo can read your vital signs and send the data accumulated to the physicians who monitor your health. From brain scans to blood tests, the connected tattoo can test everything. There’s no corner of our body that we can’t prod and probe with technological precision. The notion of epidermal electronics will change our reality, allowing continued health monitoring without unnecessary hindrance.
In fact, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Dr. John A. Rogers set his sights on the possibilities of electronic tattoos back in 2008. Dr. Rogers and his team arranged tiny silicon wires into coiling patterns and wove them through slender rubber patches. These coils link all the functional parts of the device, from the sensors and antennae to LED lights.
Today it’s still a theory, but tomorrow epidermal electronics might beam infant vital signs right to mom’s smartphone. Even more, Dr. Rogers sees electronic tattoos as active agents in rehabilitation, as these patches can help patients walk again after a long period of immobilization, through the stimulation of muscle contractions. The technology may also streamline the use of prosthetic limbs, serving as the vital link between biology and machine.
However, electronic tattoos are not limited to medical purposes. For example, a police informant can be monitored at a meeting with a deadly mob boss without any risk of someone discovering the wire he is hiding. The tattoo will not draw unwanted attention. Researchers are designing patches that will pick up on the muscular movements of speech to give voice to the mute, and allow covert military operatives to speak silently to their home base.
For pleasure, animated tattoos can be added to any part of your body.
This is all much more impressive than a pectoral tattoo that glows in the dark.
Will we one day resemble the Borg civilization from “Star Trek” and live in a machine-like reality? Who knows? But epidermal electronic systems represent a new step in our steady march toward the dawning of the man-machine. Resistance is futile!
Note that the fabrication process allows everyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached to the user’s skin. Even a skin device which resembles jewelry can be created. Today, to exchange data across on-skin interfaces, communication needs to be wireless.
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DuoSkin metal leaf traces serve both, decorative and functional purposes, this LED necklace is an example of jewelry-like routing made with DuoSkin. Source of the photograph: Digital Skin Jewelry