The next tattoos you’ll do on yourself could do more than just look fashionable. A group of Ph.D. students from MIT and Microsoft Research have come up with a fabrication process called “DuoSkin” that turns any temporary tattoos into connected interfaces, which then remotely control your smartphone, act as display output based on changes in your body temperature and share data using NFC.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, Ph.D. Student at the MIT Media Lab and one of the team’s lead researchers explained the origins of the project, saying that DuoSkin is pretty easy to make and also fairly inexpensive. Using any graphics software you can design the circuit pattern, and then layer the gold leaf on top of that. It’s the same gold leaf you’ll occasionally find atop some desserts. It can be applied just as the standard temporary tattoo. Applying other commodity materials and components would make the tattoo interactive.
The paper is currently on MIT’s official website and will be fully presented at a wearables symposium next month, presenting three key uses of the tattoos. It could turn your skin into a trackpad, change color based on your body temperature, or contain data to be read by other devices. Kao shows the tattoos can even contain embedded LEDs, creating a kind of glowing display on the skin.