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Body markings that light up when you're excited? Sign me up! - Tactical Ninja

Aug. 3rd, 2012

09:10 am - Body markings that light up when you're excited? Sign me up!

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It occurs to me that the reason I like Fenris's tats so much is that they are a representation of where I want to go with my scar. I'm excited by the idea of being able to make it light up, and have had a few conversations about the concept of bioluminescent secretions that indicate mood (as a thought experiment more than anything). So anyway, the fact that Fenris lights up is my fantasy made reality.

But how unreal is this fantasy?


So my Mum was kind of horrified at the idea of body mods. It's ironic that she died with a tattoo from the radiotherapy - I remember when I got my tattoo at 20 she tried to wipe it off, hoping it was a transfer. She couldn't conceive of why I would want to mark my body with pictures and couldn't get past the thoughts of what it would look like when I'm old. That was 22 years ago. I don't think I count as old yet but mah wee unicorn looks just fine. Sure, he's tacky and cliched and a bit faded, but what he represents to me hasn't faded at all and I still like him. Ask me again when I'm 64.

Anyway, a piercing, a brand and a scarification later, the next step for me is making it light up. I know you can get tattoo ink that is UV-reactive but I've heard very mixed things about this, not least of which is that it needs constantly touching up as your body absorbs it. Also, I've played a fair bit with UV paint and the problem with UV is that it only reacts when the light's on it, so on a broad and curved surface such as my back, the whole thing would never really be lit up.

For a while I thought that the setup marlin have is pretty cool:



This is known as 'lighting up' and an explanation for how they do it can be found here. Basically they have crystal structures on the surface of their skin commonly known as mirror cells, which are normally covered by cells known as melanifores. Depending on the stimulation, the marlin releases one of two chemicals into its system. One instantly contracts the melanifores, allowing light to reflect off the mirror cells, lighting them up electric blue. The other contracts them more slowly and turns the mirror cells transparent, giving the fish either a dark blue cast, or if it's been in that state a really long time, red from its blood (similar to the redeye in photos) because you can basically see through its skin.

This is all great, and would probably work better than a UV reactive tattoo, but the technology to be able to achieve this kind of transhuman modification seems a way off.

So that leaves lighting from within using something like LEDs. I'm not sure how I feel about the type of LEDs I'm familiar with being implanted in my skin (glass?) but I'm sure there's a way around that. EL wire is flexible and would do the job I guess, but it's notoriously delicate and I don't spend my life standing around looking pretty - whatever's implanted in me has to be able to withstand shearing and circus and whatnot.

What I'd like is some kind of extremely elastic, durable LED ribbon type stuff that can be implanted just below the surface of my skin. Not asking much, eh? But the drawback has always been powering such a thing - battery packs are unwieldy at the best of times and would require some kind of external-to-internal interface between the battery and the lights that would be an infection risk.

But now there's this - an implantable fuel cell system that extracts electrons from glucose in the spinal fluid and can be used to power devices. The implications of this are amazing - imagine the prosthetic possibilities for a start. But for me, the implication is OMG LEDs!

It'll probably be a while before such technology becomes available for the likes of me to use in body mods. It also seems like a lot of fuss to go to in order to achieve a pattern that glows in the dark. But the point is, my fantasy is not as unreal as I originally thought it would be when I started work on the scar. Then, it was just a wild idea, accessible only in characters like Fenris (even though back then Fenris didn't exist either). Now, it's not only within the realms of possibility, but it's likely going to be possible in the next ten years.

I love living in the future.


And naturally, if lyrium tattoos really were available, everyone would have one.

tl;dr I am going to be the funkiest granny in the rest home. I hope they have raves there.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:richdrich
Date:August 2nd, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
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This stuff was launched a while ago:
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2009-05/01/body-paint-that-conducts-electricity

but they seem to have changed their mind about whether it can be used on the skin.

If you could, you could maybe glue a bunch of leds (like these 0402 ones:
http://www.kingbrightusa.com/product.asp?catalog_name=LED&product_id=APHHS1005CGCK) on and wire them up with paint.
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:August 2nd, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
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Whereas the one I linked to appears to be entirely internal - or am I missing something here?
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:August 2nd, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
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So why are they so enthusiastic about the possibility of them powering prosthetics then? Since movement would require more power still..

Anyway, my preference would still be for biological solutions - LEDs and batteries feel like a distant, kludgy second option (yes I am aware that they are the more likely one in my lifetime).

Which begs the question: Why are all our geneticists* bailing for the social sciences?

*based on my highly representative sample size of one

Edited at 2012-08-02 10:07 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:August 2nd, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Being able to strobe at people could be dangerous at a rave.

But yes, that would be the ideal. Which is why LEDs and batteries seem so much less exciting.
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From:kehleyr
Date:August 2nd, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
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oooh tats and other markings that glows :-D. *cool*
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From:awdrey_gore
Date:August 3rd, 2012 01:05 am (UTC)
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You don't even have to go that far. Get yourself a skin disorder, like Sweet's Syndrome, and then develop a platelet disorder. When the plaques heal into scars and when your platelets surge in cold weather, you get bright red polka dots.

Or that may only happen to me. But at any rate, I'm festive looking in winter!
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From:tatjna
Date:August 3rd, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
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Dragon Age character modelled after you in 3.. 2.. 1..
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:August 3rd, 2012 07:39 am (UTC)
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When I look at all my friends I often think what the nursery homes in 40 years will look like *g* We'll be a bunch of geeks with tats playing Arkham Horror and quoting Captain Kirk. In the Klingon original of course. Wahahahaha!
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From:goffburd
Date:August 4th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
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I've got a long scar from my chest to my pubis which would light up like a frigging christmas tree - may have to consider that in the future!
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From:wildilocks
Date:August 6th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
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my uv tattoo is still as bright as when i got it in 2006... :)
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