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How smart tattoos could end up saving lives

(TECH NEWS) MIT and Harvard have teamed up to create smart tattoos as a means of introducing health trackers into lives in a new, innovative way.

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smart tatooos for health

Over the last decade or two tattoos have become more commonplace and less taboo. No longer associated strictly with sailors, prisoners, and the weird kids at Hot Topic, it’s almost surprising these days to meet someone who doesn’t have a tattoo.

To be fair, that could be due to the fact that I live in Austin, but case in point: they’re cool (debatable, sure).

So what could make tattoos even more cool? Science.

Harvard and MIT researchers have developed a special kind of “smart tattoo ink,” or better known as “Dermal Abyss Ink,” that changes colors depending on your current body chemistry.

“So for example, if you’re dehydrated or if your blood sugar is on the rise, your tattoo will tell you.”

The researchers had reportedly “paired biosensitive inks (developed at Harvard) with traditional tattoo artistry as a way to overcome some of the limitations of current biomedical monitoring devices,” allowing them to go beyond traditional wearable tech.

Tattoos as a monitoring device has advantages such as a wireless connection and no need for battery power, however, we’re still a ways away from seeing this in full practice. More time is needed to ensure the ink doesn’t diffuse into the surrounding tissue or fade over time, something common even with traditional tattoos.

So far, the inks that have been developed are green to brown, such as in the case glucose concentration increases. There is also a green ink, visible while under a blue light, which grows much more intense when sodium concentration rises, an indication of dehydration.

The traditional inks are replaced with biosensors whose colors change depending on the variations of the intestinal fluid, rendering the body as an interactive display.

smart tatoos

Dermal Abyss Ink testing on pig skin.

So far the tattoos appear pretty light, and a little difficult to make out as being anything special outside of a regular tattoo. Preliminary tests were done on pig skin with several injections of the biosensors in order to see how the functionality and visibility of the tattoos plays out.

So far, no human test trials have been mentioned, but it would seem patients would be the most obvious choice. Ali Yetisen, who is a Tosteson postdoctoral Fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital, said that astronauts would be likely candidates due to constant health monitoring being a necessity.

It’s also been noted that ethical concerns could be raised over having medical conditions being visible so publicly. However, white collar workers and business professionals have been covering their tattoos for years, so that’s nothing new. I’d be more concerned about picking a “not-so-smart-tattoo” like a person’s name, or a tribal armband.

“Smart tattoos” may sound like a novelty, but if it’s constant health monitoring without all the extra fluff and hassle, sign me up!

Various colors in testing for the smart tattoos, revealing health indicators.

Ashe Segovia is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Southwestern University. A huge film nerd with a passion for acting and 80's movies and synthpop; the pop-cultural references are never-ending.

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Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?

(TECHNOLOGY) Advances in surveillance tech have impressed the masses, but as our cultures consider the risk and reward, some are preparing to protect themselves from overreaching technologies and governments.

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anti-surveillance prosthetic

How many surveillance cameras do you pass when you walk down the street? Most of us don’t know and prefer not to think about it. We know that public and private entities, from social media sites like Facebook, to law enforcement agencies, are using facial recognition software. In most cases, we haven’t actively consented to this surveillance, and we don’t know what will be done with information – but it also seems like there’s not much we can do about it.

Enter artist Leo Selvaggio, who is interested in “increasing the amount of public discourse about surveillance and how it affects our behavior in public space.” Selvaggio has launched a venture called URME Surveillance, whose focus is “protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.”

URME is doing this is in an unusual, and admittedly kind of unnerving way. The site provides masks, in the likeness of Selvaggio’s face, that you can wear in public to protect your own mug from ending up on file. These “Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetics” are sold at cost – Selvaggio isn’t in it for the profits. There’s a $200 resin prosthetic, a set of 2D paper masks for large groups (protestors?), and a downloadable PDF paper mask that fits together like a 3D puzzle, giving the mask more dimension than the flat, 2D version.

paper anti-surveillance

“Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,” explains the URME website. “We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.”

Is this product a genuine solution to non-consensual surveillance? Or is it simply an artist’s attempt to make a statement? The 3D resin mask is fairly realistic, but with the wearer’s eyes peeking out of the mask’s holes, it’s creepy, to say the least.

anti-surveillance face

While the mask may thwart surveillance cameras, it will probably attract attention from other people nearby – so perhaps anonymity isn’t the goal.

It’s more about making sure that your face doesn’t end up in a databank; or at the very least, inspiring conversation about the topic of public surveillance. Potential customers should also be advised that many states and cities have laws against wearing masks in public.

Regardless of the ultimate intention, the fact that Selvaggio is willing to sacrifice his own likeness to Big Brother means that he takes the issue seriously. Cameras linked to facial recognition software will identify and track Selvaggio, regardless of who is under the mask. URME has actually tested the product using Facebook’s “sophisticated” facial recognition software.

Selvaggio even acknowledges that people could use the mask to commit crimes, which could land him in hot water. However, he has “come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all.”

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For meetings that should be an email? There’s an app for that

(TECH NEWS) If you’re tired of having your precious work time taken up by useless meetings, there may be a solution.

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standupmeet

Have you ever attended a meeting that turned out to be a waste of time and set you back on your work? I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that every person reading this article is nodding in agreement.

Meetings, if executed appropriately (and sporadically,) can be effective. However, having weekly (or even daily) meetings that are designed to catch-up or give reports can add up to a ton of wasted time.

Across the board, meetings are generally geared towards productivity, and oftentimes they are counterproductive. So, how can you still get that need for touching-base with employees while still being productive? StandupMeet might just have the answer for that.

StandupMeet is a tool designed to make meetings more productive and agile. According to their statistics, more than $37 billion per year are being spent on unproductive meetings.

The main features include: the digitization of meetings, the instantaneous sharing of minutes, and the ability to assign actions and keep track of progress.

By making the meetings digital, you organize meeting points in one place. Decisions, actions, and key points can be logged in real time and accessed before the meeting.

This makes projects more agile and helps to increase critical success factors.

With instantaneous sharing of minutes, you can collaborate and share minutes of the meeting, key result areas, and action points. This is also done in real time and is shared with colleagues to make sure that each person is on the same page.

Finally, by assigning actions and keeping track of projects helps to ensure data integrity and provides accountability to each team member. Automated reminders are available so that you can spend your time on the more valuable tasks first.

In addition, StandupMeet also offers: project wised meeting, customized meeting types, organized agendas, shareable meeting minutes, accountability, reminders to ensure time is being appropriately applied, recurring meetings, conflict-free meeting scheduling, locations, automated follow ups, automatically tracked action points, and flexibility across time zones.

This can save time and increase productivity for on-site workers and can also be beneficial for teams that are remote.

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Drag keeps your email insanely organized

(TECH NEWS) Determining the best way to organize your tasks is a task in-and-of itself. A new app is here to help you organize your emails.

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Finding the best way to keep yourself organized can be trial and error. And, there’s not one correct method for every element that you have to keep organized in your life. How you track your finances may be completely different from how you organize your art supplies.

All of this can vary based on the person at hand, as well. Some people are visual, some are list-makers, some are a combination of a little bit of everything.

With much of our work and communication being done in the virtual world, one of the more crucial organization concepts to determine is how to organize your email. This is something I just recently found a good-method-for-me after years of everything just being scattered in my inbox.

Now, a new application is available to help people be proactive in their email organization.

Made specifically for Gmail users, the Drag app exists to change the way you organize.

According to developers, “Drag lets you transform your inbox into organized task lists. Sort your emails between pipeline stages (To Do, Doing & Complete) with simple drag ‘n drop, and mark as complete. Change the way you manage your emails, right inside your Gmail inbox.”

The platform is designed similar to a site like Trello, where you have columns of cards (in this case, emails) you can customize.

Drag’s example shows a “To-Do List,” “In Progress,” and “Complete.” This way, users can keep track of what emails still need attention as well as seeing exactly where they’re at in the attention stage.

This is great for someone who has many task-oriented emails. However, if you’re someone like me who has many folders/labels for email organization, the visual aspect may become overwhelming quite quickly.

With that being said, there is still the option to keep the folders/labels while introducing the visual aspect. As someone who is very list-oriented, this could be a beneficial way to enhance organization.

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