June 22, 2021

E-Tattoos: Body Art of the Future

Tattoos have been a simple, yet fascinating form of art for centuries, and a team of South Korean scientists have now taken it a step further by successfully creating the first tattoo that can connect to electronic devices.

The researchers – hailing from Ajou University in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do Province – developed the concept by using a nanofibre paper sticker, which consists of silk protein, and testing it on a human and a robot.

The idea differs from the traditional tattoo, in that it doesn’t require sitting for several painful hours while an artist etches the image into your skin – it can be applied like a non-permanent sticker tattoo, can be activated by touch, and can operate LED lights or small electronic devices.

Kim Sung-hwan, the lead on the project, said: “As they are very thin, e-tattoos can be attached well, even onto very wrinkled surfaces like fingerprints. Excluding showering and bathing, e-tattoos do not interfere with users’ everyday life.”

They’re not the only group of ink enthusiasts who have tinkered with tattoos: another team from Seoul National University developed a medical tattoo that can determine a person’s body temperature, and the chemical composition of that body’s sweat, too.

Meanwhile, American boffins from Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have also created one that reveals and tracks hydration and glucose levels in a person.

Although the technology is rudimentary, the possibilities are endless and could perhaps lead to a new world full of tatted-up people.