Students at MIT Media Lab have paired up with the team from Microsoft Research to develop a temporary ‘smart’ tattoo - which can be used as a touchpad to control your smartphone, or even share data using NFC.
Called DuoSkin, MIT plans to present this technology in full at a wearables symposium next month.
Interactive tattoos? How the hell does this work!?
Well, DuoSkin works by using gold leaf - which is conductive to electricity - to create said tattoo. This means circuits can be made using any graphic software and printed onto the body (hopefully not with a robotic tattoo arm).
With this gold leaf circuit, users can then apply other components and materials to make an interactive tattoo.
Sounds cool! What would I use it for, though?
It’s a common problem with flashy work like this. It looks great, but what real-life uses would there be? The team have thought about this, and their paper presents three key use cases:
- Turn your skin into a trackpad - control your phone or (indeed) any piece of hardware with just a few swipes on your skin.
- Change colour based on temperature - This one would be more of a visual trick, but it would be cool to transform your arm into an interactive thermometer.
- Pull data from the tattoo - Imagine having your full medical records tattooed onto your skin, so if emergency services are needed they could just scan you to see blood type/medicine allergies/etc. Pretty cool, right?
Awesome! When can I get it?
Don’t hold your breath for too long… It’s going to be a while I’m afraid.
Research like this usually takes five years tops to get into the hands of consumers.
Now in terms of cost and technological capability, researchers are pretty much already there with it! Working just like a temporary tattoo: Just stick it on your skin and go.
But if this is where people are thinking the future of wearables is going - it’s a lot easier on the eye than the garish smartwatches of today. Have a scroll through some of their weird and wonderful creations below!
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