Make the Dictionaries Ready

Fill the vowels and prepare to launch a new language

Up until the mid 1960’s, the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) was only actually amended every 2 years or so, this was because in general over the previous 50 years new words and/or the meanings of those words occurred only at a rate of around 20- 30 per year. In the 60’s though there was something of a language revolution with street words or ‘slang’ becoming increasingly accepted within gentile society the number of valuable words or meaning to the language exploded and an annual review was deemed appropriate to cope with the number of alterations to the language, as the number of required amendments rocketed to around 100-150 per year.

In the last 5 years though, the previous 150 have been set as something as a gentle introduction to the cast of pace of the 21st century as the number of amendments now get estimated at around 500 per year, with the number of totally new words now far out-stripping (according to language experts) anything seen since the first 500 years of the language.

Quite why this kind of stuff attracts my attention I have no idea, but on reading this I was drawn to find out what kind of words our particular area of interest was about to launch upon an un-suspecting world. I didn’t have to look far to find plenty, but one that particularly took my eye, was tacttoo!

Yes I did say Tacttoo

Back in the day of Dr Who, words like Cyborg, or Cybermen, struck a cold rod of fear through our minds and hearts. Ever since the noughties there have been precautionary tale of the digitization of the human form. They are all warnings that it does not seem unreasonable to expect us all to be wary of, it did (and still does) seem to make total sense that to mess with the human form, to start to bolt things onto it cannot be a good idea.

Be warned though my friends, the days of cyber technology are now but upon us. We no longer can consider the ideas of the programs and films of our childhood as a fantasy of the distant future evil genius, no. Not only are the days when such things are commonplace merely a short grasp into tomorrow, but the development of those technologies is here with us today.

We always reassured ourselves that the monsters of science fiction would never happen, because polite society would never sanction such evil ideas, and hence there would be no pathway for the evil genius to develop and perfect his evil ideas. What we didn’t allow for is the fact that every little leap forward into the future is usually preceded with a genuine good idea that is only for the benefit of our fellow man, and that if our forefathers were to look at the gadgets that we now take as not only granted, but necessary in our lives, they would be truly horrified. Many a genius was burned as a witch.

So get ready to welcome the tacttoo into your life.

Welcome to the Revolution

We witnessed the start of the next revolution without so much as a whimper. I am not even sure how many of us even noticed the term soft key, even slip into our vocabulary. One thing is certain though, every one of us uses them, on our phones, our monitors and even on our ATM’s. The correct term for then by the way is virtual buttons (no more, no less offensive than soft key, I know, but the powers that be, took it upon themselves to presume that we would take to soft-key, more readily).

Anyway the point is that the soft-key/virtual button made the next step possible. They are a button, that has all of the functionality of a button but are actually just an image (which explains why the visually impaired hate them).

The virtual button however was the first step (the embryo idea)for what has in the last 12 months become the most driven, by far the most highly funded research topic in the whole of techno-world. The topic of Electronic skin.

A New Definition to the Term Wearable Tech.

The leading light in this new advance is Anusha Withana. He is working with collages across the world in the development of an ultra flexible, ultra sticky, ultra thin tape that can have circuits printed into it.

Once applied the wearer could control devices, send and receive information through mobile-phone like vibrations. The benefits in communication and experience in things like education, interaction and even game play are easily seen, especially to those with a disability.

Tactile information has one great advantage over audio, visual information, in that it is much less of a distraction. As Withana points out, “some vision-impaired people prefer not to have information come to them through sound, because that’s their connection with the world. If information can come to them in a tactile way, that’s better.”

The High-Tech Tat

The principle of this, developed in Germany, by Withana, and his team is a screen-printed fake tattoo, but no Dragons, Unicorns or Sailors Molls here, they are replaced with a circuit made from polymer-based conductive inks which can stretch and move with the skin. This circuit can be personalized to specific need, and mass produced at minimal cost. The cost per unit is expected to come out at less than 1c.

The circuit is printed onto the ‘second-skin’ element, which is less than half of the thickness of a human hair using skin safe silver ink. This makes the Tactoo, the thinnest wearable produced to-date. So thin in fact that it does not interfere with the sense of touch.

“We want people to be able to wear it today and remove it tomorrow—and we want people to be able to create it themselves,” Withana says. “A broader user goal is to allow people with vision impairment to explore graphical information and more fully comprehend objects in museums and parks. This is something we’re looking at with a team from Monash University.”

Tomorrow Really is Just Around the Corner

Originally from Sri Lanka, Withana, has worked across the globe with leading lights in this amazing technology, and is now truly a world leading visionary in it’s development. His belief; “Everybody is unique, and if you are challenged in some way, those challenges are also unique. So, I began looking at how technology can be personalized,”

In the not so distant future a surgeon operating remotely could have a real sense of manual dexterity and pressure, a stroke victim could have sensors to enable them to monitor their progress, or even someone with a robotic hand could actually feel the heat emitting from a cup of coffee.

When we wake up tomorrow, we could find it possible to control our current armory of smart devices remotely through this new technology. In 20 years all of our cumbersome smart devices could be replaced with this one technology.


The days of anything even remotely comparing to the cyborg of our imagination being science fiction are truly over, today, right now they are science action, tomorrow they will undoubtedly be science fact.


I hope that this article both entertained and informed you, as this, as always is my aim. I would be very interested in your thoughts, feelings on this subject, and as always I invite you to leave your comments in the space below, or as usual contact me by smashing the Whatsapp button on the page.

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