Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Digital Tattoos - Coming To A Hospital Near You

In the not-too-distant future, you'll begin to see “digital tattoos” cropping up all over the place. Their first, and probably biggest use will be in the medical field, where an ultra thin, flexible sensor will be applied to a patient much like a child's “fake tattoo.”

These ultra sensitive devices will then be able to gather enormous amounts of data from your body. Everything from blood pressure to heart rate, to hydration levels, and more. Once gathered, the data will be able to be transmitted wirelessly to the cloud, where it can be accessed or manipulated by the owners of the data via app.

Some researchers even see such a tattoo leading to a digital interface concept. The blood-powered electronic interface which is embedded under skin could be used to display videos, or act as a phone or computer - projecting right on to the skin.

Such concepts will give people unprecedented access to their own medical history and data, but at what price? The privacy concerns are enormous and obvious. If the data stream were to be intercepted from sensor to server, or if the server itself were to become compromised, then everything about you would be available for the hacker to see. Worse, your data would quickly go up for sale to the highest bidder, or risk being copied far and wide across the internet.

We obviously cannot stop technological progress, and admittedly, the technology behind these digital tattoos is impressive indeed. One of the most vexing problems to engineers to date is the simple fact that silicon, which serves as the basis for our entirely digital world, is not very flexible.

Chips tend to be inflexible, and rectangular in shape. That's very limiting in terms of design, and you can only make such a structure so small before it becomes useless, but with this new approach, still silicon based, but much thinner than anyone has ever tried to make a circuit before, silicon takes on new properties that make it much more useful and malleable.

The most groundbreaking research in this field is being conducted by John Rogers, of the University of Illinois, who is already at the stage of building functional prototypes.

A number of big names in healthcare and technology (including Google) are extremely interested, both for this tech's potential to advance medicine, but also for it's potential to further shrink hand held devices, and even usher in an era of wearable computers that extend beyond the Google Glass project (flexible circuitry like this would enable a computerized shirt, just to name one example).

Google executive, Regina Dugan also recently shared progress towards a digital pill at the All Things D11 Conference. She envisions an edible microchip or tiny pill that contains a microchip. Swallowing the id microchip would allow the person to become a living authentication system for all the popular electrical devices that we commonly use throughout the day. For example, cell phones, automobiles, or doors.

The edible microchip works on a very basic biological process. The individual takes the pill daily and the stomach acids activate the microchips in the pill.

More importantly, the entire person's body will act like an authentication system. In an era where no one's data seems secure - the idea of such an authentication method may catch on quickly.

And although there is no stopping technological innovation, one must ask the prudent question. Where does it stop? Will man and machine become one? And if we can't stop, or even slow it down, then how can we safeguard our data and preserve our privacy in the face of hospitals that could apply “digital tattoos” to newborn babies not long after their first feedings?

Are we all to be branded, in the end?

Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/March24/243.html#AvYBFlMe6Fx5DUcO.99

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