A New Tattoo Prototype From A CU Engineer Goes More Than Skin Deep

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Photo: Carson Bruns Changing Tattoos
Carson Bruns demonstrates the color changing effect when a tattoo is exposed to ultraviolet light.

In the not-too-distant future, your tattoo could do more than look cool.

Carson Bruns, an assistant professor mechanical engineering at CU Boulder, is developing a tattoo ink that is sensitive to UV rays and heat. The tech could detect if you're about to get a sunburn or if you're coming down with a fever.

“We want to make tattoos that will allow you to, for example, sense things that you can’t currently sense,” Bruns said. "Sometimes I joke that we want to make tattoos that give you superpowers."

The project was born out of Bruns' experience with nanotechnology and chemistry, and his love for tattoo art. He quickly realized tattooing is still stuck in "really ancient, almost primitive" techniques.

One day, Bruns hopes his tattoo ink could detect a diabetic's blood glucose level or a party goer's blood alcohol level.

The so-called "chameleon tattoos" are still several years out from being released to the public. Until then, use that time to dream up the perfect design for a literal heart-rate tattoo.