With companies like Apple, Fitbit and Jawbone looking to expand the use of wearables as well as there own product lines, an Austin, TX-based company is quietly working on “smart tattoos.”
Chaotic Moon and the rise of the biometric tattoo
During the annual SXSW (South by Southwest) event held in Austin each year you can’t swing a cat without running into a visibly inked visitor. The rest of the year, a company called Chaotic Moon is working on biometric tattoos with health and military applications rather than just a way of expressing your individuality.
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Chaotic Moon, has been around for awhile but only recently has the company shifted its focus to the biometric tattoo that is made of of smaller components and conductive paint.
“This is the new wearable,” Chaotic Moon CEO Ben Lamm recently told Sarah Buhr of TechCrunch. “The future of wearables is biowearables.”
Unlike Chaotic Moon’s previous work on fire-breathing drones and Bitcoin collecting fitness trackers, biometric tattoos could actually have practical applications.
“We get to do a lot of cool stuff at Chaotic Moon but with this we think there’s military applications for it, health applications for it and there are all kinds of opportunities around it,” Lamm said referring to the aforementioned silly projects.
Lamm suggested that location tracking at festivals or keeping track of your child on a busy playground could also be practical applications. There is little question that law enforcement agencies, corrections officers, and others would love the technology at their disposal as well as frightening as that sounds. The idea that Donald Trump hasn’t called on Chaotic Moon to help him track Muslims is, however, a bit surprising.
“It’s an eco-friendly, non-invasive use of a platform that basically turns you into a human circuit board,” said Hamm as he further frightened me.
Biometric tattoos are nothing new to the grinder community
Grinders, or Cyberpunks have been voluntarily looking to augment their bodies with the use of tech implants. Grindhouse Wetware, for example, is a startup that is working on open source RFID chips for voluntary placement under the skin. These RFID chips could open doors for you, start your car or adjust your thermostat to your desired comfort temperature.
I’ve alluded to the potential for serious privacy issues with biometric tattoos and Ben Lamm is aware of these concerns. However, he seems content to work on the technology and let others sort out the moral and legal arguments.
“At the end of the day, there’s all sorts of firms out there like cell phone companies and drug companies and medical device companies that work through those processes,” Lamm told TechCrunch. “For us, we’re trying to start a conversation around ‘hey you’ve already had these types of data collection components on your body.’ A lot of times they are big, they are bulky and they can be limiting. Now we’re looking at changing and evolving with these other types of conductive ink.”