A new breed of temporary tattoos offer wearable health tracking like we've never seen it before. They also have the ability to make a fashion statement and bring health tracking out of the shadows.
By Megan Pfiffner
Did you ever think that gold feather temporary tattoo your daughter insisted on wearing to her first day back at school could somehow be more than an adolescent fashion statement? The latest craze in festival accessories could actually make its way into healthcare, thanks to a few new companies capitalizing on the trend. Hi-tech flash and peel-and-stick tattoos now offer a way to gather data from patients in a non invasive way, while allowing patients to express themselves through fashion.
Temporary tattoos are in direct contact with your skin, so the data they track and collect has the potential to be more accurate than what you would get with a traditional wrist-worn wearable like a Fitbit. They can track basic health and body data or work in tandem with an ingestible health tracker. Companies like Chaotic Moon have developed tattoos that allow you to “send, receive, collect and store data” meaning they can upload everything they collect via bluetooth and send it directly to the patient’s doctor.
DuoSkin tattoos, which were created in the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with Microsoft Research, have output display capabilities causing the tattoo to change color, alerting you to changes in temperature or emotion. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have tested tattoos that can gauge glucose levels in patients so they don’t have to use a finger prick test. Other health tracking tattoos can track heart rate, stress levels, hydration levels and even location.
While the technology is in its infancy, the possibilities are easy to imagine. Health tracking temporary tattoos could allow a doctor to track when and where a patient was feeling stressed, having an allergy attack or a spike in heart rate based on solid data. The data would be collected over time for seemless trend tracking, transmitted via bluetooth to the patient's phone, where it would be available for sharing with healthcare providers.
Time to get tatted up (in the name of science).