Microsoft and MIT turn temporary tattoos into touchpads

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Temporary tattoos are more than just a fun activity to try at the beach, or a new way to test a real tattoo before you go under the needle. If some doctoral students are successful, they will soon become a fashionable way to control your smartphone.

It is not a typo. A new project from Microsoft Research and MIT’s Media Lab combines built-in sensors and gold leaf “connecting element” to create interactive temporary tattoos. And these DuoSkin tattoos aren’t just a starter. While you could use any of them to theoretically control your smartphone’s volume, they could also be used as an output device. In other words, tiny components of the temporary tattoo (like LEDs) can somehow change based on a stimulus, like your body temperature. The watermark could also store data and transmit information when queried by other devices (like some kind of NFC chip).

“It is important to note that DuoSkin incorporates aesthetic customizations found on body decoration, giving form to exposed interfaces which, until now, were mostly obscured by covers. Our technical evaluation confirmed that golden peel was more durable and preferable when affixed to the skin than the base materials currently used in everyday life, ”the research paper from MIT’s Media Lab and Microsoft Research reads. .

“This makes gold leaf a viable material for users to create functional and compelling devices on the skin. During our workshop evaluation, participants were able to customize their own on-skin music controllers to reflect their personal aesthetic. “

The only sticking point with the two tattoos, really is their ability to stay on your skin for a decent amount of time and the external microcontrollers that you have to attach in order to activate the functions of some tattoos. Although tattoo researchers seemed to have a little trouble getting the copper tape and wire of the tattoos to stick to subjects participating in an eight-hour tattoo trial, the gold foil itself stuck around. perfectly in place.

Microcontrollers are a necessary part of the equation for those looking to have tattoos that act as inputs or outputs, as batteries and other larger components are not built into hand tattoos. gold leaf themselves. However, these can be discreetly hidden on the body (or attached to clothing). It’s a small price to pay to turn your wrist into a volume controller or, better yet, a functional touchpad for your connected device.

“We believe that in the future, electronics on the skin will no longer be a black box and a hoax; on the contrary, it will converge on the usability, extensibility and aesthetics of the body decorations, forming an integrated DuoSkin to the extent that it has apparently disappeared, ”reads a video description for DuoSkin.

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