Would You Allow a Computer Chipped Tattoo?

When the idea of integrating circuitry into the human body comes about there is always a great deal of apprehension – and perhaps rightly so.  With circuits and chips implanted in human bodies, the movements of people would be easier to track, perhaps even if they wished the opposite to be true.  But one method has recently come about that is gaining popularity for its application among gamers, medical patients, and corporate spies.  That tattoo you have could actually be turned into a secret computer chip – that is if you want it to be according to researchers at the University of Illinois.

The computer chip would be micro-thin, but allow electricity to pass through it unhindered like a normal processor.  And while it may not be able to process vast computer algorithms itself, the chips are showing an increasingly versatile number of uses.  Everything from patient identification to computer access and even verification could be used by having an electrical current interpret who is present.  But that’s just the sort of thing critics of the program have been worried about for years.

In 2007 the American Medical Association published a report on the potential security risks these chips could create as the chips are often unencrypted and could easily be scanned by a third party.  The signals, likewise, could be replicated by such a third party making it surprisingly easy to impersonate another person as the technology falls into wider use.  Additionally, privacy groups have always had issue with the ability these chips would give police and other forms of enforcement to identify who everyone was at any given time.  But these criticisms have always been for the silicate glass RFID transmitters that people would have implanted in their bodies.  The tattoo chips are a bit different, although they are by no means problem free.

The new chips are a bit more temporary, however, adhering on the molecular level to skin in a way that can come off in only a few hours or days afterward.  They have been proposed to be put on the throats of individuals to help computers identify the contents of their speech when giving voice commands without background noise even in noisy environments, to be placed on bandages to help manage a patient’s vital signs and give information about the healing process, and even on foreheads to help monitor brainwave patterns emitted by the subject.

The technology is less a machine that could do any specific thing as it is a new method of applying computer chips to people to temporarily “wire” them in and make computers respond to their body’s functions and vice versa without invasive surgery.  How the technology is used after that point will be something that will have to be seen.  We will simply have to wait and watch with interest to see what happens next.