The Electronic Tattoo
It’s stickier than you think
Forget about under-the-skin implants. Who needs a painful micro-chip injection when you can get a digital tattoo that does all the same things? According to a new report from EuroWeekly, Bill Gates is predicting that digital tattoos will become the new smartphones:
An electronic, or digital tattoo, is an innovative method that seeks to collect and analyse data from the human body by taking advantage of the application of biotechnology. The special ingredient in making this function correctly is apparently the special ink used to apply the tattoo. It will allegedly contain some tiny sensors and trackers, which subsequently conduct electricity that will be used to send and receive information, something that is known as a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip.
Bill Gates said in a recent Instagram post that he believes that regardless of the fact that the technology is still in a very early stage of development, it has all the potential to replace today’s smartphones…With the functionalities of these electronic tattoos, he envisages a future where the use of sensors, trackers, and other wearable devices akin to digital tattoos can be used to communicate, send messages, and make phone calls.
According to EuroWeekly, the company behind the technology is Chaotic Mood Studios, although they’re not the only ones hurrying to get a digital semiconductor printed on your skin.
Researchers at Northwestern University are developing their own version of the digital tattoo, involving a flexible form of silicon that can detect electrical signals from inside the body and be recharged wirelessly. Take a deeper dive here:
The Northwestern researchers want to use their device for medical purposes, although a segment of the video clip above shows a graphic of a tattoo attached to the human brain…and a baby. It isn’t hard to guess where this might be going: from health monitoring, to behavioral monitoring, to brain monitoring, to brain stimulation.
Note that trajectory. From the medical to the manipulative.
The trajectory isn’t inevitable. But it would be more than a little naive not to feel a shiver of alarm. Despite their utility for healthcare, electronic tattoos may be another step toward integrating human beings into the Internet of Things, a physical network of digitally connected objects—like phones, cars, smart fridges, Amazon Alexa, and eventually our kids (what child doesn’t love a peel-and-stick tattoo, especially one that links to the tablet they got at age three?).
The ordinary Internet or “World Wide Web” connects searchable items on a web browser, but the Internet of Things is like draping the Web over the earth, so that we—our physical bodies and our lives—are like insects caught in the sticky threads.
The question is, who is the spider?