Innovative New 'Tattoos' Bring Us Ever Closer to the Age of Cyborgs

Innovative New 'Tattoos' Bring Us Ever Closer to the Age of Cyborgs

Newly developed SkinMarks turn the human body into an electronic controller via temporary tattoos.

We are presently witnessing the most exciting time in the course of any advanced civilization. We live in an era in which we constantly watch science fiction concepts turn into reality. One of the most fascinating things we are currently witnessing is humanity slowly dipping its toes into what it means to be a cyborg.

The term cyborg was coined in 1960 and refers to an organism that has both biological and biomechatronic parts. One of the first things that comes to mind is people with robotic arms and legs, but there’s another avenue through which cyborgs seem poised to rise – tattoos.

Scientists have been working on several kinds of super thin temporary electronic “tattoos” that transform areas of the body into touch-sensitive buttons that are able to control other electronic devices, such as a smartphone.

One such kind of future tattoo, SkinMarks, was developed in a recent collaboration between Google and Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. Users can touch these embedded sensors on their body to access functions on electronic devices.

The “tattoos” are able to sense touch on electrodes less than a millimeter in size which have the ability to register simple inputs, such as squeezing, bending, or even just touch. Thus the human body becomes an electronic controller supporting output.

Some applications the research team are already playing with include volume and start/stop control for digital music functions on a smartphone, launching apps, and launching calls – all with just a touch of the skin.

The tattoos are made of tattoo decal paper with wires and electrodes printed on top of them, while remaining thinner than a human hair. They are then heat cured, an adhesive layer is added, and the tattoo is ready to be affixed to human skin much in the same way one would apply a temporary tattoo – with water and hand pressure. It honestly sounds very painless compared to other ways in which one might become a cyborg.

Though it will be some time before SkinMarks and other similar cyborg
technology are commercially available, it is undeniable that the future
of our species is one of cyborgs, and that future has already begun.

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