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Saturday, 14 December 2013

The electronic tattoo: a new form of medicine (and a new form of control)

Comment: From post operative monitoring to paying for goods by say... having it conveniently cattle-ironed onto your palm?

Medical breakthrough or yet another step in technocratic surveillance and conformity? The medical angle will continue to be served up as the selling point followed by its seamless roll-out into everyday life under the guise of "efficiency" and convenience." 

"Yaay! Cool! All my friends have tattoos so, like ... it's just a natural step ... and it means I don't need to carry anything with me when I go to the mall. Totally awesome! And hey, don't forget Mr. Cynical...They may save lives dude...(earnest expression).

And don't forget: "At first glance, it looks no different than the multi-coloured butterflies inked on to countless shoulders" 

Line up kids roll up your sleeves! It's the latest trend!

I'd like to think that people by now are not that clueless. But I'm often disappointed.  After all since Google has got in the act what could possibly go wrong?


They may not have much in common with inked messages of love, yet electronic tattoos could help save lives. Here’s how.

Name of inventor: Nanshu Lu
Organization: University of Texas at Austin
Year: 2013
Country: USA
Prize/Award: MIT “Innovator” (category: Innovators Under 35) / Netexplo Award (UNESCO headquarters)

At first glance, it looks no different than the multi-coloured butterflies inked on to countless shoulders. Yet there’s a lot more to this tattoo than meets the eye. Affixed to a patient’s skin, it allows vital data and healthcare information to be monitored remotely, transmitting it directly to the doctor responsible. It is packed with sensors and could prove a flexible, practical and non-invasive solution for post-operation monitoring. The solution offers major potential, and could also be used in areas beyond healthcare, such as measuring sports performance or managing objects remotely. Stuck to someone’s neck, it could analyze the vibrations of their vocal cords and transmit simple orders (left, right, start, stop, etc.) to an object or a video console. Society is only just getting to grips with the Internet of things, and it seems we are already looking to the Internet of the body. Perhaps time to look at the tattoo in an entirely new light.

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