Your next tattoo could be functional as well as aesthetic. A new product from MIT Media Lab called DuoSkin created in partnership with Microsoft Research turns temporary tattoos into connected interfaces, allowing them to act as input for smartphones or computers, to show output according to temperature changes body and transmit data to other devices via NFC.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, PhD student at MIT Media Lab, explains the origins of the project in the video above. Kao says that metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos are a growing trend, providing a great opportunity to create something that matches existing fashion while adding some genuinely useful functional abilities. She notes that in Taiwan, there is a “great culture” of cosmetics and street fashion, which is affordable and accessible enough that “you can very easily change and modify your appearance whenever you want.” The DuoSkin team wanted to achieve the same with its technological touch to the tattoo trend.
As a result, the system is actually designed to be quite inexpensive and easy to configure for just about anyone. It uses gold leaf, the same thing you’ll sometimes find delicately flaked on chic desserts, for basic conductivity, but otherwise uses everyday crafting materials like vinyl cutter and paper dough. temporary tattoo print. You can use any desktop graphic design software you like to design the circuit, then feed this design into the vinyl cutter, overlay the gold foil, and apply as you would a standard temporary tattoo. . Small, surface-mounted electronic components, including NFC chips, complete the picture of connectivity.
Researchers have devised three different ways to use DuoSkin tattoos, including as input devices that can turn your skin into a trackpad, or a capacitive virtual control button to adjust the volume on your smart device, for example. . Tattoos can also show the output, changing color depending on your body temperature, like a Hypercolor t-shirt. Finally, they can contain data to be read by other devices, via NFC wireless communication. Kao also shows how they can contain built-in LEDs for light effects on the skin.
Kao ends by suggesting that they would love to see this technology come to tattoo parlors, so it’s easy for anyone to hook up with the ink. This is definitely something that could drive the use cases and appeal of wearable tech as a category, especially among price-sensitive customers who place great value on aesthetics and don’t want to have to. wear a watch or other cumbersome piece of technology.
Startups like Inkbox are already working on advances in materials science that also extend the life of temporary tattoos. wash overnight, either.