Now control your devices via tattoos

From fitness trackers like FitBit and Jawbone to the numerous available smartwatches, wearables have become an important part of many people’s daily routines. It’s easy to see why — they’re functional, convenient and often aesthetically pleasing. But also, companies still haven’t really be able to sell their vision of wearable devices to the general consumers. Here’s why you should consider buying a smartwatch if you’re one of those consumers. But how can you bring wearables closer to the people that wear them? Tattoos



Don’t like tattoos? Here’s a reason you might want to try one soon. A new technology called DuoSkin, developed by MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research, allows anyone to create customized gold metal leaf print tattoos that can be worn directly on the skin. The temporary tattoos can be used as touchpad inputs, display outputs, and wireless communication.

Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, PhD student at MIT, took inspiration from the street fashion in Taiwan when she took part in helping put together this stunning piece of wearable technology at the MIT Media Lab, in partnership with Microsoft. It’s called the Duoskin, and it’s a gold leaf temporary tattoo that can be used as a touchscreen. As the MIT Media Lab website description explains, “DuoSkin devices enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style.”

Kao explains more about how the device works in the video about the idea; there’s lots of different ways that the tattoos could be implemented, and not only are they beautiful, they’re safe to wear and customizable according to one’s personal style.


Another subtle aspect of the video that I noticed is that the Duoskin is shown to be worn on people with a variety of skin tones, so I assume it works just as well no matter your skin tone. By contrast, one of the many problems that people saw with the Cicret bracelet touchscreen (which never came out, at least not yet) was how to account for different skin tones when projecting the touchscreen onto a person’s arm. The Duoskin doesn’t project an entire readable touchscreen; it’s more of a control pad, and in my opinion it’s a much cooler-looking result than the Cicret would have been. Plus, there’s an actual working prototype in existence for the Duoskin, unlike the Cicret, so that helps too.

I also love that this piece of technology has an eye towards fashion and wearable appeal, unlike so many other examples I’ve seen, beyond just the Cicret. The Apple Watch, for example, is notoriously bulky and unattractive, no matter how cool it may be. But these temporary tattoos look so beautiful that I could see myself wearing one all the time! The whole cyborg angle is just an added bonus.

The process is almost entirely enabled by gold leaf, which you have probably seen before in picture frames or floating in overpriced vodka.

The invention allows people to create one of three types of devices. The tattoos can be used as touchpad or as a controller inputs for things like music devices. They can also be used as an output device to show things like when a person’s body temperature. Finally, the invention can be used as a wireless communication device to host NFC tags like movie or concert tickets.


Though still highly experimental, DuoSkin offers an interesting look into how future tattoos could work.

“In the future when you walk into a tattoo parlor, you would come out with a tattoo like this,” says Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD student who worked on the project. “They will not only be very sophisticate technically but they will become an extension of yourself.”

You can read more about DuoSkin on MIT’s website.

Source : TechCrunch


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