Would you get a tattoo that monitors your health?

2 mins
05 Aug 2022
South Korea launches nanotech tattoo to monitor health

Just in case you need another reason to get inked...

image Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

words Megan Wallace

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The digital revolution we’re currently living through has led to the kind of innovation we never would have dreamed of when we were growing up. From amazing telescopes uncovering the long-hidden secrets of the galaxy to AI that (seemingly) has feelings, it’s a brave new world out there, that’s for sure. The latest can’t-believe-it’s-real technology? Electronic tattoo ink that doubles up as a health monitoring device.

Yep, it’s a hard one to wrap your head around, but here’s what you need to know. Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea have made a tattoo ink from liquid metal and carbon nanotubes (we’re not sure what that last one means, but it sounds important). When connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) device, this ink can then help decipher vital information such as heart rate and glucose or lactate levels. Amazing, huh?

The ink is made from gallium — a silver-like metal which is also used in thermometers and, seriously levelling up the concept of “wearable technology”, this new innovation could help anyone wearing the tattoo to keep track of potential health problems. Who needs WebMD when you have your own monitor making sure everything is functioning as it should?

Speaking of the research, project leader Steve Park, a Materials Science and Engineering Professor, had plenty of thoughts about how the technology could be used. “In the future, what we hope to do is connect a wireless chip integrated with this ink, so that we can communicate, or we can send signal back and forth between our body to an external device.”

We were definitely not very good at science back at school, but we can still tell that this is one major breakthrough! Now we’re just wondering what's next on the horizon when it comes to new inventions…

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