Tattooing started out as a painstaking process that sometimes took several days to complete even the smallest designs. Previous to the invention of the electronic tattoo machine, tattoo artists had to push ink into the the skin manually. But technology came in and saved the day, allowing for modern day artists to create a wider variety of designs and develop new techniques. Now the question is, where is tattoo technology headed, and what are the possibilities that lie further down the road?
We’ve already seen some great mobile apps come out, which make it possible to test out a tattoo and see what it looks like on your skin before you get one. You can read a great article about InkHunter for iOS on the Painful Pleasures blog. Regarding the actual tattoos themselves, there have been recent developments in tattoo technology that are changing the way people think about tattoos. For instance, a 3D printer was modified by a team of French design students so that it can be used as a tattoo machine. All you need to do is upload the design into a computer, and the printer will do all the work of applying it to your body. This is yet another example of how artificial intelligence and automation could eliminate jobs, because with the 3D printer, you wouldn’t need a human artist to ink you up. But it's unlikely that 3D printers will be replacing artists any time soon. The human element is too important, and people might not be ready to consider the result "art" if it's been printed by an inanimate object.
Advancements in tattoo technology can also be seen in the biotech field. There are some big names getting into electroconductive tattoos such as Motorola and Google, and they have been coming up with some interesting ideas for electronic tattoo technology. They can be used to track location, read vital signs, measure enzymes in sweat, and as passwords for digital devices. It's possible that the next generation of Motorola phones could come with the capacity to identify electronic tattoos.
Other areas of progress include the ink itself. Nokia already has a patent on technology that allows tattoo ink to interact with a mobile device through magnetism. You will never miss a text again. It will be impossible to ignore the pulsing and vibrating sensation coming from inside your skin, notifying you of an incoming call. There is also a new ink called Freedom-2 ink, which was created by a team of researchers from various ivy league schools. This development is helping to solve the problem of tattoo removal. It’s no secret that people get tattoos they regret. Freedom-2 ink is permanent, but if you want it removed, the special Freedom-2 ink formula allows it to be removed quickly and easily.
The future of what defines a tattoo is uncertain.There has been talk of inserting tiny circuits and devices under the skin that act as health monitors. These devices can measure stress levels, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure , and even insulin levels for diabetics. These are being called electronic tattoos, but this terminology is surely debatable. These pieces of hardware seem less like tattoos and more like a segway into the cyborg lifestyle of interfacing flesh with machines, but not all tattoos of the future will be printed in ink. In fact, LED tattoos are already starting to pop up. LED photo cells may one day become the eminent form of tattooing, and in the not so distant future, everyone in the club may be showing off their flashing lights. But until then, we are happily stuck with what we’ve got. Be sure to keep up with all the latest tattoo gear and gadgets in the Tattoo Supplies section of the Painful Pleasures website.