Temporary tattoos double as app and device controls
The wearable technology market has been flourishing in recent years. As that technology grows, so to does design and innovation. In the future, even your tattoos could be much more than just ink designs.
MIT researchers and Microsoft Research have created high-tech temporary tattoos called DuoSkin. These tattoos can act as a controller for smartphone apps and other devices. DuoSkin tattoos are both technically and stylishly sophisticated devices, compared to smartwatches and fitness trackers.
“I think there is no fashion statement greater than being able to change how your skin looks,” said Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD student at MIT. “These tattoos enable anyone to create interfaces directly on their skin.”
In a paper for the upcoming International Symposium on Wearable Computers, researchers outline three main uses for the tattoos. First is as an input device so you can control something like a smartphone app. Second is an output device, so the tattoo itself can be used as a display. Finally it can be used as a communication device, when the tattoos use near-field communication to send data to other devices.
These temporary tattoos use layers of gold leaf that act as a conductor and are then connected to parts of a small, simple circuit. DuoSkin acts as an input device that turns your skin into a track pad, allowing users to connect to a computer or smartphone and control apps by swiping on the tattoo itself.
Researchers have built a prototype in which the tattoo is connected to an Arduino computer, which is paired to a smartphone music app. By swiping on the tattoo, the wearer can control the music playback on the app.
“In the future when you walk into a tattoo parlour, you would come out with a tattoo like this. They will not only be very sophisticate technically but they will become an extension of yourself.”
Though still highly experimental, DuoSkin offers an interesting look into how future tattoos could work. If you’d like to see more wearable technology, take a look at jewellery that creates electricity from body movements.