I was recently informed that a whopping 40% of the American population under age 40 wear tattoos. This is, to me, an impressive figure, considering tattoos have always been essentially permanent and unchanging… and in a society that is dedicated to variety and choice, you’d almost think tattoos would be the antithesis of that. Of course, medical science has discovered ways to remove tattoos (though not well), so maybe all those under-40s are just assuming they’ll be able to ditch the tattoo whenever they feel like it.
I recognized the fact that tattoos are becoming more mainstream—and, someday, possibly be even more prevalent—in Sarcology, wherein Perry Collins, one of the main characters, has a bald head covered in tattoos of religious symbols. It is part of his everyday activities to reach up and touch a tattoo that represents one of the religious guidelines he is thinking about at that moment.
I’ve never seriously considered getting a tattoo, myself; I could never think of a word or symbol that meant so much to me that I wanted to have it branded onto my body. Not to mention the fact that there was a bit of a social stigma related to tattoos when I was growing up: Some places would not give you a job if you had a visible tattoo. Even though those days have—well, not quite gone, but lightened up considerably—the need for me to have a tattoo just isn’t there.
On the other hand, if I could get a tattoo that did something useful, that would make it much more desirable for me. For instance, if my tattoo could unlock my home and my car… or if it could serve as the fob that allowed me to enter my office. Some are experimenting with tattoos that contain bioelectric circuitry, or include QR codes to trigger software when scanned (above… the QR code works, though the graphic may not be clear enough to read it).
If my tattoo contained a bioelectric signature or QR code that locks could read, it could remove the need for me to carry a pocketful of keys and fobs everywhere I go. I’d LOVE that.
Of course, I can hear the privacy wonks scream as I post this… alongside those who believe we’d see a crime spree of criminals with scalpels, cutting away our skins to get at our ID tats. I mean, seriously: Do you believe criminals want to go through the trouble of cutting off skin or fingers to access your accounts biometrically, just to score a few hundred bucks?
Because, if you had half a brain, you’d have a panic button embedded on you somewhere that would automatically cancel your biometric account access and call the cops. So whatta ya worried about?
You want to feel better about ’em? Then how about tattoos that monitor your cholesterol, blood pressure or heart rate, and can advise you to pass on that last donut, suggest a nice jog, or even dispense medicine? Or call 911 when you have an attack? A tattoo that could save your life might be worth something.
If you could have a tattoo that actually did something… what would you want it to do? Play a song when the sun shines on it? Start your car? Play animated art on your body? Broadcast your marital status at a party? Tell the DJ your favorite song?