Friday, February 29, 2008

Vampiric tattoo makes phone calls

Apparently someone is a William Gibson fan:

Jim Mielke's wireless blood-fueled display is a true merging of technology and body art. At the recent Greener Gadgets Design Competition, the engineer demonstrated a subcutaneously implanted touch-screen that operates as a cell phone display, with the potential for 3G video calls that are visible just underneath the skin.

It's powered by human blood. Well, sort of:

The basis of the 2x4-inch "Digital Tattoo Interface" is a Bluetooth device made of thin, flexible silicon and silicone. It´s inserted through a small incision as a tightly rolled tube, and then it unfurls beneath the skin to align between skin and muscle. Through the same incision, two small tubes on the device are attached to an artery and a vein to allow the blood to flow to a coin-sized blood fuel cell that converts glucose and oxygen to electricity. After blood flows in from the artery to the fuel cell, it flows out again through the vein.

I wonder how much it takes out of you. And whether you need to drink a lot of Gatorade for it to operate properly. At any rate, don't roll up your sleeves yet:

The tattoo display is still just a concept, with no word on plans for commercialization.

The article doesn't make clear how much of this concept has been realized. It talks about the device's capabilities -- Bluetooth-enabled, fueled by blood, providing a dynamic display, monitoring for blood disorders -- as if they are functional. Color me skeptical. Looks to me like the thing is totally vaporware -- which is absolutely fine for a concept.

Just a side note: the unnoticed killer app is that you should be able to set a "screen saver" that would appear to be a normal tattoo. Want to get a tattoo of your girlfriend's name, but you're not sure she'll be with you in a year? Wish you had a lot of types of tattoos? Want to display someone's photo instead of their name on your tattoo? Ever wanted a tattoo of your grocery list so you won't lose it? Well, here's your solution -- or it would be, if the device actually existed.

Electronic tattoo display runs on blood

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