Nanomesh smart tattoos could replace fitness trackers in the future, allowing for a less invasive and cumbersome way to keep an eye on your overall health. While such a notion might seem like something that's more than a little out there, Scientists at the University of Tokyo have been working on such a product that could be worn on the skin and be used for a number of different tracking purposes. Because the tattoos are just that, tattoos, which you can apply yourself and wear, the very nature of using them to track fitness data and other health-related information could have some very real benefits over currently available wearables, like being easier to blend into your daily wardrobe.
According to the research paper, these nanomesh smart tattoos are pliable, thin, and extremely lightweight with integrated electronics to provide the necessary hardware for reading and transmitting data. Think of a temporary tattoo but advanced enough that it could relay information about your exercise, or tell you when your blood glucose levels might be getting too high if you're diabetic. Really, the possibilities could be endless for how they're used, and because of their size and weight, it could feel like they're not even being worn, while also providing less discomfort compared to traditional fitness trackers.
The research also notes that these tattoos would be safe to wear on human skin for extended periods of time, so there would be no worry that taking one out for a run would result in extreme discomfort. Based on the findings of the scientists at the University of Tokyo, which conducted tests with willing participants, the tattoos were worn for around a week or more without causing any skin irritation, and were more breathable than rubber, which means they could provide better air flow to the skin than the materials that are used for the wristbands of current wearables. Not unlike a regular temporary tattoo, these smart tattoos would need water to apply them to skin, though it's said it would only need to be a very small amount, after which the tattoos mold to the shape of wherever they're placed, like in the image above. While there's no guarantee that anything like this would actually make it to production, the idea behind it is likely intriguing enough to catch the eye of the public, though there are probably still many unanswered questions, such as how these tattoos would hold up during physical abuse (essentially wear and tear), how much they would cost, and ultimately what a production-ready version would be capable of in terms of feature limitations.