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.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a 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 colour 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 parlours. With endless customization options, DuoSkin provides a great interfacing alternative for those adverse to other, more cumbersome pieces of technology — like a smartwatch.