These high-tech temporary tattoos can turn up the volume

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DuoSkin capacitive touch slider in gold and silver foil. Photo: Jimmy Day

A trend in temporary tattoos turns into temporary UI technology in a new project by MIT Media Lab. In collaboration with Microsoft Searchsix artists including a doctoral student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, worked to create fashionable and portable user interfaces. Called DuoSkin, the manufacturing process they created was inspired by trendy metallic tattoos and a desire to make technologies more ingrained in people’s daily lives.

The process allows anyone to create these designs by following simple steps: the designs can be created using any graphic design software, then, by connecting the software to a vinyl cutter, the designer cuts a layer of film on the tattoo paper, then layers on the gold foil. The tattoo is then applied as a regular temporary tattoo.

DuoSkin thermochromic shields are activated by underlying resistive heating elements composed of gold foil. Photo: Jimmy Day

These bright temporary tattoos can fall into one of three classes: entry, exit, or communication. Input tattoos “resemble traditional user interfaces,” the project’s website explains. Building on a touchpad that distinguishes horizontal from vertical movements, two fabricated layers provide technology that can be used to, for example, control music volume.

Output watermarks, on the other hand, translate data into visual designs. For example, a flower design glows when the wearer’s body temperature changes. The latest class of DuoSkin tattoos, communication devices, allow other devices to read data directly from the wearer’s skin. In a demonstration video of these awesome tattoos, an iPhone reads a metallic tattoo like a barcode, extracting movie ticket information.

DuoSkin: Functional and elegant user interfaces on the skin from MIT Media Lab to Vimeo.

The artists also added LED lights and other technological devices to the metallic tattoos to enhance the already beautiful designs, making each one unique. These creations, both technologically powerful and simply aesthetic, were inspired by Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao’s childhood in Taiwan, where she observed a culture of beauty absorbed in temporary and unique body modifications. Kao imagines a world in the near future where tattoo parlors will offer UI tattoos, but for now, UI tattoos only exist as temporary, fashionable glimpses of the future. .

Control devices from the DuoSkin 2D trackpad. Photo: Jimmy Day

To learn more, visit DuoSkin’s website.

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