Do you remember the really bad Kurt Russell movie Soldier from 1998 that made just $15million of a $60m budget and was widely disapproved by the critics? Yes, it may have been one of the worst action movies ever made, but for its time, it gave a vivid concept of a very futuristic technology that is now close to becoming real.
No, we're not talking about the sociopathic soldiers, which by the way already exist in abundance. It's the electronic tattoo that featured all so prominently on the face and arms of Russell that is the centre of this topic.
A team of scientists from South Korea's Center for Nanoparticle Research have developed a workable e-tattoo, which when embossed on top or embedded underneath the skin, is capable of analyzing, storing and relaying important information about the human body.
Since the tatt remains in direct contact with the body, it could theoretically be much more efficient in monitoring things such as heartbeat and blood pressure than conventional procedures. And that's just a start.
While we know that Google's subsidiary Motorola has a secured a patent for a similar technology, it is just a work-in-progress at this point.
The Korean team's research is at a far more advanced stage and got published recently in Nature Nanotechnology. In their own words, their e-tattoo can be used to make 'bio-integrated systems with optimized performance of data storage, diagnostics, and drug delivery functionality in stretchable formats.'
But if you have been paying attention to tech trends these past 12 months, you must know that the idea of incorporating wearable tech in human life isn't panning out as was originally thought. Even if we ignore the fact that most wearable tech products are super ugly, there is no getting around the discomfort associated with their usage.
And since e-tattoos are basically wearable, detachable skin, why do experts think results would be any different this time? The answer to that question was given by the Korean team's leader Donghee Son, who said: "Although conventional monitoring devices capture compelling physiological data, the form factor of existing devices restrict seamless integration with the skin, giving rise to wearability challenges and signal-to-noise limitations."
At the moment, this concept device needs external power to operate, meaning test users need to carry small batteries in their pockets. However, we've known for a while that an MIT team has developed a fuel cell that runs on human glucose. Hence, in the years to come, the power issue could get resolved too, and we might see people warming to the idea of getting e-inked.