Microsoft Research’s DuoSkin lets you control connected interfaces with temporary tattoos

MIT Tattoo DuoSkin

A new technology called DuoSkin, developed by MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research, allows anyone to create customised gold metal leaf print tattoos that can be worn directly on the skin.

Researchers at MIT have taken the concept of a temporary tattoo and launched it into the technology age.

Tattoos that act as an input device can turn your skin into a track pad, allowing users to connect to a computer or smartphone and control apps by swiping on the tattoo itself. “In our workshop evaluation, participants were able to customize their own on-skin music controllers that reflected personal aesthetics”.

Those stylish flash tattoos could do more than just look cool in the future. The final step is layering on the gold leaf and removing anything outside of the design.

Microcontrollers are a necessary part of the equation for those looking to have tattoos that serve as inputs or outputs, as batteries and other larger components aren’t embedded in the gold-leaf tattoos themselves.

Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD Student at the MIT Media Lab, and her team at DuoSkin noting the popularity of temporary tattoos that resemble jewelry and can by swapped out to match your outfit was the teams thinking behind their new “remote”. For example, you can use it to control a game or even your smartphone. The researchers are hoping that through DuoSkin, on-skin electronics can be pushed forward as functional, user-friendly and customizable interfaces. One person that tried the app and pushed the “mood button” when they felt angry caused the other person’s flame-shape tattoo to light up. Output devices display data, such as your body temperature or what emotion you’re feeling.

The tattoo had built-in LED’s that caused the tattoo to glow white so that they could observe when their partner was upset. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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