In the future, your tattoos could be as functional as they are expressive.
MIT, in partnership with Microsoft, created a new touch interface, DuoSkin, that allows temporary tattoos to interact with smartphones or computers, display output based on body temperature changes and even transmit data using NFC.
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Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, PhD student at MIT, says the tattoos are not only trendy, but cheap enough “change and edit your appearance whenever you want.” In Taiwan, Kao notes, there’s a “huge culture” of intermingled cosmetics and street fashion. The DuoSkin team wanted to achieve the same thing by keeping the technology affordable, attractive and on trend.
Aesthetics aside, the tattoos are highly functional. Each DuoSkin tattoo is available in one of three separate classes:
- An input class that turns your skin into a trackpad.
- An output class that can change color based on skin temperature.
- A communication device that lets you pull data from the tattoo.
Each class uses a gold leaf to create a durable and aesthetically pleasing temporary tattoo. From there, researchers create a circuit using graphics software before cutting out and placing the design like a normal temporary tattoo. Each tattoo can also contain an NFC chip, thermochromic layer, or even LED lights.
Kao suggests tech like this would be a perfect fit for tattoo parlors. With endless customization options, DuoSkin provides a great interfacing alternative for those adverse to other, more cumbersome pieces of technology — like a smartwatch.