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The world around us is fast changing – from data being saved in water to people having to buy air to breath, our race and times are evolving very peculiarly. We are building robots which can defend themselves from us, and we are also inventing bottles that can make water out of thin air. For example, wearable technology has and is constantly changing our idea of skin. In this melee of technological advancements, tattoos aren’t forgotten.

Make way for TECHNICAL TATTOOS. Electronic tattoos that they can store your vital health statistics and bank details.

What we know :

  1. A company called Chaotic Moon is creating these stunning tattoos.
  2. The dual purpose tattoo is comprised of electro-conductive ink embedded with sensors and microchips.
  3. They are applied like temporary tattoos (Reference to the memory of the tattoos that came with Boomer?)
  4. With the tech tattoo, all your information can be carried on your sleeve, literally. When you need the information you have stored, you can quite simply pull it up.
  5. On the medical side of things, the tech tattoo can be applied onto the body once a year and it will let you check your vital stats that is to be sent to the doctor of your choice. If the doctor finds an issue, he will call you up. It seems to be a convenient option to many. As for the current model, the tattoo will check for signs of fever, heart rate and other vital signs that you need to know to see whether you or your child are falling ill (The tech tattoo might also be a cheaper alternative to The Apple Watch and other high-end smart gear watches).

Is it affordable economically?

At the moment, Obama Care is developing a framework to support the project and bring projects based on predictive medicine closer to reality, more than just a fancy thing in the hands of tech-heads. Saying this, it is highly possible that these tech tattoos will be the way forward, also because we have already seen an increase in the use of biometrics in security, policing, banking and other sectors. Even smart phones nowadays use simple fingerprints to unlock phones. If nations around the world start investing in and developing similar projects, developments are closer than a ‘distant future’.

The negative?

  1. There are people opposing this seemingly brilliant idea, with a simple argument- Aren’t these easier to hack?
  2. Most of these systems are dependent on the use of smart phones and applications to track and record information and there is no saying that technology cannot be hacked.
  3. We live in a time when the state is playing the role of the parent and the citizens becoming the children. Privacy and keeping the state away from certain aspects of the personal sphere is becoming a rising concern. Does letting states pay for and develop such systems really help the cause and protect information?
  4. We’ve already been introduced to the idea of using microchip implants on our pets and children so as to never lose them. Similarly, how easy would it be for the state to track us? We could never ever be ‘off the grid’ really.

It is highly possible that these will become mandatory and not a matter of choice since governments are slowly starting to take interest and putting their money on the project.

For an expert’s perspective, we asked Mumbai Tattoo artist Chirag Jhala about how he thinks this new version of body art will change the face of modern tattooing and also, an individual’s privacy. “It is an interesting concept. It can be used for good as well as bad. But the privacy levels are definitely compromised. This reminds me of a particular cartoon episode I had watched of ‘Johnny Quest’ where there is a small town and everyone there has been microchipped. One of the persons goes rogue and his microchip starts faltering. Now, the person can be located and that is a good thing, but the rest of the episode also showed that there are small bombs implanted into people’s brains with the same microchip technology and the person can go brain dead if the government wanted him to. It is scary. As an individual, my identity would be absolutely compromised and I’m not comfortable with that, and as an artist I won’t support this.”

It is interesting to see the change in society that it will bring, as well. Chirag says accurately – “Earlier, if you were tattooed, you were seen as a rogue person but now it would be a non-tattooed person who would be a bad person, the government cannot track you. Ironically the tables have turned in a way.”

The wearable industry is not very new to the world. In 2013, big companies like Motorola had actually discussed and filed a patent for a microphone that would be tattooed on people’s throats to record the vibrations of their larynx and send commands to the phone. Scientific study in the University of California (San Diego) had also introduced a tattoo which was self-powered using sweat to measure lactate, something most athletes do usually with a blood test.

Smart digital tattoos have found their way into research time and again, but Chaotic Moon seems to be the only company that is trying to make this a mainstream thing, accessible first to everyone who wears body art and then eventually to the rest of the population. The tattoo is in its prototype stage at the moment, but it won’t be long now since there is so much research taking place and alternative options for wearables being used.

Watch their video here:

As for people who love body art, it is a beautiful thing as well as something that is scary. Divesh Mehta, proud owner of three pieces of art (and counting), says technology that is spoiling the fun and beauty of art makes no sense. “As an individual who chooses to ink his skin for the sheer joy of having something inscribed for life, this technology makes no sense to me. A tattoo is not about bank details or having some data part of my body so that I can keep it safe. I don’t do dealings in black market or deal overseas. Both of these are not correlated, for me. That aside, people can use this technology to safeguard their details and hide it from people and institutions; a tattoo is just helping it hide, nothing more. But for me, this doesn’t make sense. Tattoos were originally marks, to differentiate between tribes. As of today, they have become body art to adorn and share your beliefs, love and passion.”

On the privacy side of things, Vineesh Edakarra, also a lover of body art and proud owner of a beautiful piece on his chest, thinks microchips on his body are scary. “I would like to run away. Besides, there are a zillion ideas, life changing inventions that die year after year because the interest on them dies.”

Many others too feel this will never materialize, since we keep getting amazed time and again with ideas that bloom and wither away with time.

Scary and inevitable or progressive and necessary – we cannot decide. What do you think?

Visual courtesy: Chaotic Moon

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