Tattoos aren’t anything new, in fact - they date back to 3300 B.C where Egyptian mummies have been uncovered by archaeologists with tattoos of mythical beasts covering their bodies - when people say tattoos last forever, they aren’t kidding! Since tattoos have been around for such a long period of time, they’re definitely overdue a bit of an upgrade, especially when it comes to aligning them with the ever evolving 21st century, and that is exactly what researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have done!
The future is now!
New LED tattoos from the University of Pennsylvania are made from silicon-and-silk implantable devices which sit under the skin like a tattoo. These implants carry LED lights, turning your skin into a screen! This new silk substrate technology has already been tested successfully in mice, the silk substrate onto which the chips are mounted dissolves away inside the body, leaving just the electronics behind. These impressive silicon chips are about 1mm long and just 250 nanometres thick. The sheet of silk will keep them in place, moulding to the shape of the skin when saline solution is added – perhaps this could be the future of Instagram stories?
What are the uses?
Although LED electronics for beauty and style would be truly incredible to see, the primary focus for this research is medical uses. The main avenues scientists are looking at is blood-sugar sensors that show their readouts on the skin itself as well as neurodevices that tie into the body's nervous system hooking chips to particular nerves to control a prosthetic hand, for example. Using chips inside the body isn’t a completely new phenomenon, the most common place most of us would see this is via tags injected into our beloved pets.
Unsurprisingly the first displays are sure to be primitive, but the possibilities could be life changing for the patients that receive them. This doesn't mean that the commercial and artistic possibilities are being ignored. Philips, the electronics giant, is exploring some rather sexual uses and we are sure that as this technology progresses the options will be endless!
We, of course, are considering the geekier side of this tech. GPS, with a map readout on the back of the wrist would revolutionise getting around with a lot less staring down at your phone, or instead we could say goodbye to sunglasses and have chips that cover your eyeballs and provide shaded protection when the sun is shining too bright.
Inevitably a full-body display will eventually be used for advertising. You could give a whole new meaning to being a freelance advertiser and turn yourself into a walking, talking version of piccadilly circus. At least, unlike a real tattoo, you can switch this one off.
In fact, if you start to imagine the possible uses, they seem almost limitless.
Have a look at our art installation services where we also use some of the most cutting edge LED and Electrics in the industry.