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Electronic Paper-style Changeable Tattoo

Like a Kindle. But in your skin.
  [vote for,

The other day I was thinking about how great it would be if we could get animated, changeable tattoos. I looked online to see if anyone had tried this yet, and to my surprise I found that somebody has. Two people have claimed that by surgically placing a thin, flexible LCD screen under the skin, they can create tattoos that can be changed (or turned off completely) whenever you want. They also install a microprocessor that can be programmed wirelessly, so reprogramming your tattoo can be done quickly and easily. They say they've actually done this to about 60 people. However, awesome as these guys are for finding a way to do this, there are some drawbacks:

1.It's illegal as hell. The technology is untested, and the only people that are doing this aren't surgeons. 2.Short battery life. LCDs have to be backlit, which means they constantly need electricity or they won't show up. The batteries are also placed under the skin, and they need to be recharged every four to twelve hours. 3.It might not actually work. No offense to these guys, but they don't allow pictures to be taken of their changeable tattoos, and I couldn't find anything anywhere online about whether these work well or not. Maybe it doesn't show up very well. Maybe it causes scarring. Who knows.

So this system leaves a bit to be desired. Why not replace the LCD with an electronic paper display, like the Kindle uses?

Electronic paper uses a layer of electrodes, then a layer of tiny capsules full of clear oil and dark particles, and then another transparent layer of electrodes. All of these things can be made to be flexible pretty easily. The electrodes cause the dark particles (titanium dioxide) to move up and down, making the capsule appear dark or light. Each capsule is like a pixel, and once the particles are moved, they stay put, which is why they take so little power. Stick one of these in your arm, and it ought to last for days, as long as you don't change your tattoo too often. You might need to paint the bottom layer of electrodes to match the color of your own skin, to make the tattoo invisible when it's turned off, but otherwise, it should look just like a regular tattoo.

Oh, and don't perform this procedure in a dingy tattoo parlor. You'll need everything to be as sterile as possible or you'll run the risk of skin infections.

moustache_mcflanigan, Feb 22 2010

Existing animated tattoo technology http://people.howst...animated-tattoo.htm
Pretty cool, but I couldn't find anything else about these guys or anyone else who has tried to do this. [moustache_mcflanigan, Feb 22 2010]

The Illustrated Man: How LED Tattoos Could Make Your Skin a Screen http://www.wired.co...e-face-of-humanity/
This is total cyberpunkery! [jetgrrl, Feb 24 2010]

cheryl wishes she hadn't... http://www.thespoof...e_solution_5998.htm
[po, Feb 26 2010]

Thinkgeek 2010/4/1: moodINQ - Programmable Tattoo System http://www.thinkgee...oodinq-tattoo.shtml
[jutta, Apr 01 2010]


       // changeable //   

       Intriguing, but not ideal if the tattoo you have chosen is your blood group ...   

       Besides, it's going to have to have some non-contact control system, which means RF, which means someone will work out how to hack the protocols, and do you really want to be walking round with a tat that reads "Britney Is The Greatest" ?
8th of 7, Feb 22 2010

       Hmm. The software used to control the display would need to be password protected, for sure. But frankly, I think having a changeable tattoo is cool enough that's it's worth the risk of having your skin hacked.
moustache_mcflanigan, Feb 22 2010

       "I Love Barry Manilow And His Music"   

       Still prepared to take the risk ?
8th of 7, Feb 22 2010

       oh god   

       maybe not
moustache_mcflanigan, Feb 22 2010

       "read my lips"
FlyingToaster, Feb 23 2010

       I think you could have a changeable tattoo without the need for any (implanted) electronics at all.   

       Each e-ink dot would by a bi-stable magnetic switch. When a large enough magnetic field (applied externally through the skin) is applied directly above each e-ink dot, the switch moves from dark to light.
xaviergisz, Feb 23 2010

       [+] for cyberpunkery.
DrWorm, Feb 23 2010

       I heard (probably on NPR) a while back about a tattoo ink that was bound to a magnetically sensitive molecule. When exposed to a strong magnetic field, the two broke up, allowing the ink to be quickly absorbed into the body, thus producing an easily removable tattoo.   

       Not at all the same thing, but something similar with magnetically variable dies could work, as per [xavier]s suggestion.
MechE, Feb 23 2010

       Why not implant just the capsules, without including the electrodes? The display would be changed by applying an *external* electrical field over each capsule, to move the pigment up or down. Since the device which changes pixels from light to dark isn't inside the skin, we don't have to worry at all about how much energy it consumes.   

       Plus, it's basically unhackable, since there aren't any electronics inside one's skin -- the only way to change the image is to press the image-changing device directly against the skin in which the tattoo is embedded.   

       Now, obviously this can't be used for animated tattoos, but at least they are completely changeable / editable at will.   

       As an added bonus, one can "manually" edit the images, by means of a pen whose tip has an electrostatic charge.
goldbb, Feb 23 2010

       [+] what [DrWorm] said. Kind of baked, though.
jetgrrl, Feb 24 2010

       A wealthy person could employ a team of lackeys with portable projectors....
mouseposture, Feb 25 2010

       //by means of a pen whose tip has an electrostatic charge//   

       <Picturing a bad-ass Magnattoodle>   


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