Once reserved for rebels and outliers, tattoos have gone mainstream in the United States. According to recent surveys, 21% of all Americans now have at least one tattoo. And, among the 18–29 demographic, the number rises to 40%. If that number sounds high, just wait until tattoos go from being aesthetic statements to biomedical devices.
At Harvard and MIT, researchers have developed “smart tattoo ink” that can monitor changes in biological and health conditions, measuring, for example, when the blood sugar of a diabetic rises too high, or the hydration of an athlete falls too low. Pairing biosensitive inks with traditional tattoo designs, these smart tattoos could conceivably provide real-time feedback on a range of medical conditions. And also raise a number of ethical questions: what happens when your health information gets essentially worn on your sleeve, available for all to see?
To learn more about smart tattoos, watch the Harvard video above, and read the corresponding article in the Harvard Gazette.
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