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When a person gets tattooed, often the goal is to immortalize an image on the skin with no other function other than to simply be beautiful. But what if you could take it to the next level, and bring new life to your tattoo beyond its ink in your skin? There is something to be said about pieces that make use of the world around them, beckoning the interaction of another human or device.

The simplest form of interactive tattoos may take the shape of a puzzle you can solve or a game you can play; all you need is a pen and willing partner. Think word searches, connect-the-dots, mazes and the like; all of the above are fixed images, but can be constantly manipulated in everyday life. Without a doubt, you’ll be the most fun game at the party, when people start filling out the tic-tac-toe board on your passed out body.

On a grander scale, modern tattoos are going above and beyond by incorporating technology into their schtick. More and more innovative tattoo ideas are being brought to the forefront, from QR codes that can actually be scanned, to depictions of sound waves that can link to an app that plays an audio recording. Green screen tattoos are also a popular choice, as they’re able to portray any image or video you want with the help of proper software. You can even get a tattoo that serves as a marker that will trigger an augmented reality program, in which you can use your tattoo’s keys to interact with the virtual environment. Altogether, these works fully push the boundaries as to what tattoos are capable of, and it seems as though we’re only seeing the beginning of it.

The power that tattoos have in the modern age feels infinite. In recent years, researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School explored a new type of tattoo: a biosensor tattoo that can make a person’s skin interactive. For those suffering with chronic diseases, the need to pierce their skin to monitor glucose levels multiple times a day is an undeniable burden. To alleviate this, researchers are exploring the possibility of biosensor ink that changes color when fluid levels rise or decrease, indicating the need for medicine such as insulin. While these prospects are still in development, this certainly points to all the groundbreaking functionalities of tattoos.

All of these pieces are prime examples of the constantly evolving ways to mix art and technology—not only for entertainment purposes, but for potentially life-saving ones as well. By adding more layers to the traditionally static art form, we are constantly transforming it into something previously unimaginable.

Connect the Dots

To Do List

Maze

3D

Crossword Puzzle

QR Code

Green Screen

Soundwave

Augmented Reality