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  • Writer's pictureScott Glazier

Tattoo Super Powers

Good Morning Speakeasy Readers!

Hope you all enjoyed the sunny weather while it lasted, looks like it will be a cloudy week in Los Angeles. Personally I’m very eager for summer time to start.

Today’s topic is certainly an interesting one. Ever wish or think about having a super power? Maybe you want to fly, read minds, or my personal favorite get bit by a radioactive spider and gain enhanced strength, stamina, and agility along with shooting webs from your hands.

As for me, I grew up reading comics and thought about this all the time. While I don’t think I'll be encountering any radioactive spiders anytime soon, I did recently learn about some “super tattoos” that go beyond aesthetics. From the time that tattooing began, people have come a long way in advancing in the methods and technology. While things are already pretty great today with tattoo technology, there’s always a future and nothing truly stops growing. Here are some really cool new things that tattoos can do.

1. QR Codes

After the world was hit with the pandemic, our lives became a lot more digital, and one thing we began to consistently use is QR codes. From pulling up a restaurant menu, to paying a bill, QR codes have become something we consistently use. It shouldn’t be too surprising that at some point people would start getting QR codes tattooed on their skin just like people have done with barcodes. With a QR code tattoo, you can scan the tattoo with your phone and it can lead to whatever you want it to. A song, social media, some people even have it lead to their vaccine certificates. “Once, a client wanted to write a love letter for his girlfriend, so he got a romantic song they listened to together as a QR code,” said Vikas Malani, an India-based tattoo artist who runs a studio called Body Canvas. These types of tattoos are certainly cool and full of many possibilities, but there’s also a lot that can go wrong. For some people, their QR codes didn’t work once their tattoo was completed. A tattoo like this takes a lot of precision and must be perfect for it to be readable. There is also the issue of your tattoo aging and changing. This could cause your QR code to not read anymore. Another big issue is the page linked to your QR code could get deleted.

2. Soundwave Tattoos

Some tattoos already hold a lot of meaning for some, but with a soundwave tattoo you can take those meaningful tattoos to a whole other level. Imagine getting a tattoo dedicated to a loved one, but also being able to attach a recording of their voice to it as well. In 2018 a company called Skin Motion brought this aspect into the tattoo world. With a short audio snippet you can upload it to the Skin Motion app and then convert it to a soundwave image that the tattoo artist can use. Once that soundwave is tattooed you can scan your tattoo with the Skin Motion app and listen to it anytime. I think this is a really special way to give a meaningful tattoo another layer that’s on another level. I think as we become more and more a digital society, we will continue to see many other digital interactions with tattoos.

3. Disappearing Tattoos

For some it can be hard to commit to a tattoo, I mean it is permanent after all… well maybe not anymore. A company called Ephemeral Tattoo came up with a solution for those who keep going back and forth about getting a tattoo. This brand created an ink that will fade to nothing in 9-15 months. The process of getting the tattoo is still real as it is applied from the needle to the skin just like a permanent tattoo, but the reason this tattoo will fade is because the ink is biodegradable and bioabsorbable, medical grade, plant based ink that breaks down. Currently these tattoos are only available in black and white and have locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and San Francisco. I’m not sure how I feel about this one, while I think it’s great that people can figure out if they want a tattoo or not, I also think this takes away from that thrill and excitement that goes into getting your first tattoo.

4. UV Exposure Tattoos

If you enjoy the sun shining down on your skin, this idea would indeed come in handy.

Carson Bruns, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering with the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado is currently leading a team that is testing a tattoo ink that would warn you when you have gotten too much sun and need to reapply sunscreen. The way it works is the ink contains a dye that is invisible during periods of low or absent UV exposure, but turns blue when you've been under the sun's rays for too long. So if the tattoo is visible it’s time to reapply sunscreen or head indoors.

“I have always been interested in both art and science. My favorite type of art is tattooing and my favorite type of science is nanotechnology,” Bruns said. “When I had an opportunity to start a new research program, I thought it would be really fun and interesting to try and put the two together.” Bruns and his team hope this will help decrease skin cancer. I really like this idea and think it’s great tattoos can not only be a work of art, but a medical tool as well.

As we can see the future holds many possibilities, and tattoos can serve for more than the purpose of being a beautiful work of art.

I think it is definitely clear that the digital world is merging into the tattoo world and I think it’s amazing that tattoos can also serve some medical purposes as well. The one thing I put my foot down on for the future is robot tattoo artists. That’s a big NO for me! Let continue to leave the art up to us.

Until next time my fellow apes,

Peter Hernandez


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