I always say how I love technology when it has a clear benefit to people. So what has caught my eye now? A company out of Austin, Texas is trying to make it easier for you to monitor your health. Well, maybe “easier” isn’t the right word for the current stage of this technology, but it will make it easier eventually. They essentially are creating circuits (yes, electrical ones) on your skin by using conductive ink. The end goal is to provide an easier way to send data to your doctor to help monitor your health. They state that instead of going to the doctor once a year for a physical, this technology will send all that information for you. Or it could, in theory. Could it also send information to your doctor in the event that you were sick, and maybe didn’t know?
What an incredible idea. Think about it. You’ve come down with a sore throat. You’re not sure if it’s a cold, the flu or strep throat. All contagious and all unpleasant. Instead of running to the doctor, you wait it out. Giving it a few days, hoping it will go away on your own. Why? Because no one wants to sit in a waiting room with a bunch of other people only to find out “it’s just a cold”. (Can you tell I have experience with this?) Instead, you’re wearing a “tech tattoo” and the information is automatically provided to your doctor’s office. All they have to do is call you and let you know the diagnosis.
The possibilities are endless! Maybe a glucose monitor is on the fritz. But the reading’s are coming out “normal”. Perhaps the tech tattoo would let the doctor know that the diabetes patient has really high insulin levels and they need to get it sorted out. Or maybe in some cases it doesn’t even go to the doctor, but to your smart phone. We might never have to use a blood pressure monitor again. Because it will automatically read it for us.
This type of technology could also possibly prevent some serious infections from popping up. There are so many random, unknown viruses in the world today. A tech tattoo, in theory, could alert public health to your symptoms and get you into a hospital before you start spreading it around. This might even help some people find out about an STI if they are asymptomatic. And, give you an “out” from having to have that conversation with your doctor. Either way, this technology only has positives, right?
Well… like with anything, we have to be able to outweigh the bad with the good. Could this lead to privacy concerns? Let’s say there is real time data being sent from my body to a device, or my doctor. Is there a chance that information could be leaked some how? Of course. And maybe the answer isn’t to allow it to happen in “real time”, but rather monitored communication. Or maybe this is just the way of the world, and we can’t stop it?
The creators of this technology jokingly suggest that these tattoos will turn human’s into cyborgs. So where do we stand on that? With the emergence of wearables becoming more and more popular, is an immersible the next thing?As I always say, this technology has a lot of merit and some huge potential, but I am not sure it’s quite there yet. I have listed a few positives, but mostly around preventing serious illnesses. Do the tech tattoos have other possibilities? Is the technology itself harmful or dangerous? There are many questions that aren’t answered, but I certainly hope this technology gets further developed.