LogicInk Tattoos Act as Wearable UV Sensors

Tattoos are developed to show instantaneous and cumulative sun exposure.

LogicInk is a team of engineers and designers with a passion for technology related to health and an eye on self-expression. After winning honorable mention in the National Institute of Health’s 2016 Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge, the group looked for other health-related wearable opportunities and decided to focus on skin cancer. Using data from the Skin Cancer Foundation, the group found that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and that skin cancer has more diagnoses per year than all over cancers combined. LogicInk wanted to create a visual tool that could easily tell users if they or their families were receiving more sun than recommended by the World Health Organization. The group is running a crowdfunding campaign for their first production run of UV indicator tattoos.

The UV tattoo shows two circles, the outer circle an indicator of your full daily exposure to the sun and the inner circle showing the amount of sun exposure as a constant real-time reading. The campaign page says that two designs are available, one exclusive to this first Kickstarter production run. Tattoos are meant to be worn for one day, and then discarded. Several other tattoo sensors are in development and shown on the campaign page – the alcohol sensor that can monitor consumption and display blood alcohol levels, an air quality sensor detecting pollutants in the air, and a blue light sensor meant to find high energy visible light.

LogicInk takes a different approach to wearable technology, offering an optional app for longterm data collection but focusing on the immediate daily visuals. They say that the programming involved in the product comes from overlapping and distributing the ink compositions instead of writing computer programs. Their focus is on chemistry and biology as product development tools instead of electronics. The campaign page has a frank discussion of where each sensor type stands in the development cycle, sometimes saying that sensitivity needs to be increased and response time reduced, sometimes lamenting signal amplification and inter-subject variability. The comment section brings up issues of different skin pigmentations and the popular ‘this isn’t a tattoo, it’s a sticker’ but those concerns have not yet been addressed. This non-electronic take on wearable technology will be interesting to see develop over the next few years, both for individual use and as a medical tool. The idea that you wear a piece of advanced technology for one day and then dispose of it seems counter-intuitive, and I hope that’s addressed at some point in the future. The Kickstarter campaign is already successful and ends on October 5, 2018 with first units currently scheduled to ship in November.