Dattoos?

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No, its not a new slang for a tattoo, its kind of a crazy concept. Consider this a tattoo that mixes your DNA (hence the “D” in “Dattoos”) that would allow you to control computers. Don’t worry, its only in the concept stages, as of right now. Leave comments and thoughts.

From Discovery News.com:

Dattoos: Body Art Melds DNA, Computing

Analysis by Clark Boyd
Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:45 AM ET

Dattoo

(Warning: You are either going to find the idea behind Dattoos very cool, or very creepy. I’m not sure there’s a lot of room in between.)

Dattoos (DNA tattoos) are an as-yet unmade product by Frog Design. Here’s the elevator pitch via Frog Design:

“The concept of the Dattoo arose in response to current trends towards increasing connectivity and technology as self-expression. To realize a state of constant, seamless connectivity and computability required the convergence of technology and self. The body would need to literally become the interface. Computers and communication devices require physical space, surfaces, and energy. The idea of DNA tattoos (Dattoos) is to use the body itself as hardware and interaction platform, through the use of minimally-invasive, recyclable materials.”Now for the requisite line: It’s like L.A. Ink meets Minority Report. Well, maybe not quite.

But to find out more, I shot some questions to Hartmut Esslinger, founder and co-CEO of Frog Design. He responded via email.

Q1) How did the Dattoo idea get started, and why? What was the inspiration?

A couple years ago we were asked by Forrester Research to make an inspiring presentation at a conference about innovation for high-level executives. And I thought that the best way to illustrate the coming challenges of converging digital technology with the human body would be to take today’s speculative lab research about organic computing and singularity — as also put forward by Ray Kurzweil — and then conceptualize it into “product concepts” which would illustrate how usability and user experience may evolve.

“Dattoos” was just one of four futuristic concepts, but it is the most radical one: a media computer as part of the skin and the body with a design inspired by the art of Asian tattoo patterns. I also want to say that the project created so much excitement within Frog and Forrester, that we went from ideation to finish in 10 days.

2) How would it capture a user’s DNA, and why? What purpose would that serve?

As “Dattoos” are thought to be highly personal (e.g. self-designed pattern and then printed and transferred onto the skin), they also must connect to the personal database of the user, which is key for verification and security. This also means that nobody can pose as somebody else as it is possible today. And it also would ensure more ethical online behaviors (e.g. in social networks or blogs) and abolish today’s loopholes which enable abuse of the First Amendment by people who author Jaron Lanier calls the “digital mob.”

The “how to make this?” I don’t know yet, but it will become feasible.

3) What’s the energy source? What would the display be like?

The entire product is thought to be “nano-organic,” built with substances by which the human body is built as well. The energy source would be body heat and eventually blood sugar. The display would be an advanced design of OLEDs, just much thinner and more flexible than today.

4) What kinds of “apps” do you envision for Dattoos?

Being connected, informed, fun and managing life. One idea could be that users can “rub” content onto the Dattoos of others, which would bring physical interaction back. They also could be used for better body posture, training and also brain-wave enhancement. And naturally, Dattoos also would serve as an app for body fashion, enabling people to visually express themselves.

5) They would be printable — how would a user print new ones? Would users be able to design their own?

The “design-print-transfer” production can be compared with transfer decals. The idea is that the user can create a new design every day, or buy one from other people. They could load up the features, including the nano-chip designs, print it and stick it onto his or her skin. The glue would probably work like honey and to get it off, a shower with soap would do the trick. Naturally, one would have to avoid heavy rain or swimming.

7) How close is the Dattoo to actually being a working prototype?

So far, Dattoos are design fiction. The concept is based upon speculative research. However, I believe that we designers shouldn’t leave the design of BANG (Bits, Atoms, Neurons & Genes) just with the more technocratic scientists.

Projecting the fusion of futuristic technology into our human life and body must meet our functional and emotional requirements. Esthetics and “Art-Thinking” are viable tools when we are envisioning new solutions for the higher purpose of human culture.

8) What would you say to people who might be scared to let technology have that much access to their genetic code?

This is and will be a personal choice. However, authorities, insurance companies, banks, Google and friends on Facebook, most of whom I don’t know personally, probably know more about me than myself. I just visited a great exhibition about personal identity and privacy at Ando’s “Design 21_21” museum in Tokyo including some wonderful student projects.

There are no secrets anymore. The challenge is how we deal with sensitive information in a graceful way.

So, what do you think? Cool, or creepy, or both? Would you want to wear a “Dattoo?”

Also, be sure to check out some other projects that meld body and computer. There’s Skinput, and also MIT’s Sixth Sense project.

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