Smart tattoos may soon become part of popular culture, thanks to a researcher who developed a way to power such devices with sweat.

Photo Credit: ACS

Photo Credit: ACS

Smart tattoos have many uses, and when they inevitably become as popular as the smartphone, the tattoos will be able to monitor your health by keeping track of your vital signs. The one major issue researchers have had to figuring out a way to power these tattoos. So scientists are looking to power such devices with human sweat. 

UCSD researcher Joseph Wang has developed a way to power smart tattoos without external equipment, using just human sweat, ExtremeTech reports. Sweat secretes lactate acid and electrons, which can be harnessed to power devices. The process involves embedding enzymes that process lactate to the tattoo, which extracts 70 microwatts of energy per square centimeter of skin.

The catch, however, is the skin needs to get much hotter than what a simple walk will produce. To secrete lactate, you would, for example, have to bike vigorously for 30 minutes. 

There are other options researchers can explore. First, they could develop a way to activate the nerves that control sweat glands in a small patch of skin. This would allow you to produce sweat without all the heat and exertion. Alternatively, they could find a way to locally generate lactic acid, so as to keep high levels from circulating in the blood.

Learn more about Wang's research in the video below.