DuoSkin: Temporary Tattoos That Work as On-Skin Interfaces

Believe it or not, the next tattoo you get might be just as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. DuoSkin, from the MIT Media Lab and Microsoft, is now capable of turning temporary tattoos into on-skin interfaces. This technology would enable almost anyone to create their own unique, wearable circuits. The tattoos would be able to act as an input for computers or smartphones and other similar devices. With the trend of metallic, temporary tattoos continuing to rise, there is currently a great opportunity for technology that combines both fashion and function.

Surprisingly, DuoSkin would be fairly affordable once it’s available to the public. Almost anyone could purchase and set it up easily. The system uses gold leaf, which is often used for crafting and even dessert toppings. The circuit can be made through any kind of desktop, graphic creation software. Once the design is crafted, it can then be fed through a vinyl cutter, layered with the gold leaf, and then applied to the skin. The product is completed with small, surface mount electronic components.

Developers currently have a few ideas in mind for how to implement this technology into daily life. DuoSkin tattoos could potentially be used as an input device that would allow you to turn your skin into a trackpad, or even as a volume control knob to a connected device. Additionally, the tattoos can change color based on body temperature and they can even store data to be read by other devices.

The hope is that DuoSkin would make its way into tattoo parlors so that anyone could get this futuristic tattoo option. Technology such as this could help boost the usage and appeal of wearable tech. While many people may not be able to afford some of the pricier options such as the Apple Watch, they could jump into the wearable trend with DuoSkin. It could also appeal to those that want to wear something less bulky and more discreet.

It’s easy to start day dreaming about the possibilities of something like this. Imagine being able to change the song that’s playing by swiping your arm, or wearing your identification on you like a stylish accessory. It could even become a favorite accessory and fashion staple. With LED capabilities, the tattoos can be illuminated to a color of your choice, which would probably make them very popular in night clubs or at music festivals.

There have even been talks of using them in the medical world. This technology could be used in hospitals to display specific LED color patterns to help identify patient’s illnesses at a quick glance. The possibilities and future growth of something like DuoSkin are infinite, and it seems like we could be seeing available for public use fairly soon.

Developers are aiming to eliminate the black-boxing and mystification on on-skin electronics. They want to move forward and merge user friendliness, extensibility, and the aesthetics of body decoration with technology.

Here’s to hoping that we get try this technology out soon!

Image via Flickr by Tatt It