Tattoos as health monitors? Scientists develop a unique technology

Tattoos have grown in popularity over the last decade or so, and in South Korea, they may become the latest device for monitoring one’s health. Tattoos will be used in the future to implant a device inside people’s bodies that will track their vital statistics and even send alerts in the event of potential health problems.

Scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon created the technology. Tattoos made of electronic ink made of ‘liquid metal and carbon nanotubes’ that can be connected to biosensors are used in the process.

‘In the future, we hope to connect a wireless chip integrated with this ink so that we can communicate, or we can send the signal back and forth between our body and an external device,’ project leader Steve Park, a materials science professor, told Reuters. The ink will act as a connector between a biosensor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine, which will constantly monitor a person’s health.

The technology will also allow the readings to be examined on monitors that can be placed anywhere, and the device will send automatic notifications in the event of a health emergency. ‘When it is applied to the skin, the tattoo does not come off even with rubbing, which is not possible with just liquid metal,’ Park explained when asked how the technology will work.

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