DuoSkin temporary tattoos can control devices remotely

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Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created a series of smart temporary tattoos that can control devices by touch (+ film).


The team, led by PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao and in collaboration with Microsoft Research, designed the DuoSkin transfers to look like the gold and silver flash tattoos that are popular at music festivals.

But unlike regular stickers, DuoSkin is made from sheets of gold metal. As a conductive material, it can interact with an electronic circuit that reacts to touch.

DuoSkin by MIT Labs

In the current prototype, the traces of gold leaf are connected to a microcontroller and a wireless communication unit that allows interaction with smartphones, computers and other devices.

In collaboration with Microsoft’s research division, the group has developed four models for four different uses. They created a simple button for single clicks, a slider for single scrolls, a slider for continuous scrolls, and a more complex lattice shape for a trackpad.

DuoSkin by MIT Labs

“It’s something that we deliberately wanted to make available to everyone,” Kao said. “All you need is graphic design software like paint or something to design the circuit. “

“Then you would hang it on a vinyl cutter and cut out the traces of the film layer on the tattoo paper, then you would just spread the gold foil and peel it off,” she continued. “After that, you apply the tattoo to your skin like a normal temporary tattoo.”

DuoSkin by MIT Labs

In addition to touch input tattoos, Kao has developed a prototype for output display tattoos, which use thermochromic dyes that change color based on your body temperature.

The final prototype includes near-field communication (NFC) beacons, which means the data can be stored on your skin and read by NFC-enabled devices. Other experiments included the integration of LEDs into the circuit.

DuoSkin by MIT Labs

While Kao’s metal transfers are said to be used to control devices, materials scientist John Rogers created an electronic mesh-like tattoo that monitors temperature, hydration, and tension.


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Other technological developments in body art include an industrial robot tattooing a person’s leg for what the designers claim to be the first time in history, and a machine designed to allow users to self-administer. tattoos.


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