Just as gold-leaf tattoos seemed to be a fashion trend that was on its way out, MIT found a whole new way to make tattoos out of gold leaf and metal leaf that provide a lot more function. As seen in the video below, DuoSkin tattoos turn your skin into a trackpad for your mobile devices and do so much more in the process.
The DuoSkin technology from MIT’s Media Lab and Microsoft shows just how amazing it can be when art meets technology. Although the DuoSkin tattoo technology cannot be purchased yet, the smart tattoos are something that’s already creating a big buzz online prior to their forthcoming debut at a wearables technology conference.
Although the smart tattoos look like the popular flash tattoos, the metallic temporary tattoos are actually on-skin interfaces that employ a whole new use of gold leaf. Gold leaf is usually used to decorate the frames for paintings or as an edible and decorative substance placed in vodka and chocolates, but this time, the metal is being used for the types of 21st-century functions people perform the most.
That means you can adjust your music player with one of the smart DuoSkin tattoos. Or you could let people know how you feel when the output display changes color based on body temperature. The DuoSkin tattoos are similar to a mood ring, but they are used almost anywhere on the body instead of just on your fingers.
Or, if you prefer to add some jazzy lights to your form-and-function tattoos, you can wear the DuoSkin tattoos that allow for the embedding of LED lights, as seen in the above photo.
The smart tattoos don’t limit the user to pre-made cookie cutter designs. Instead, they will allow users to create any style or form they wish by using tools like Microsoft Paint to make their own designs.
Next, the user can layer the gold leaf and apply the DuoSkin tattoos as if they were temporary tattoos. The DuoSkin creators explained that the striking tattoos are more meaningful than smart technology and the coolness of wearables. Instead, they are a reminder of the chemistry behind the devices that connect us to one another.
“DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, a material that is cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear, we demonstrate three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication. DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. 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. We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead, they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and aesthetics of body decorations, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that it has seemingly disappeared.”
Meanwhile, the video of the smart tattoos is causing lots of buzz online. As reported by CNN on their Facebook page, in their video titled “Control your phone with these temporary tattoos,” the news about the DuoSkin tattoos has soared to nearly 500,000 views in 12 hours.
The above DuoSkin video from the Vimeo page where the video is embedded has nearly 220,000 views as of this writing.
In a Forbes report, Cindy Kao explained that the MIT grad and her colleagues used imitation gold leaf in a blend that’s more copper than gold and temporary tattoo printing paper to create the smart tattoos. These items are readily available at craft stores. At only $10 per pack, the DuoSkin tattoos will likely be a big hit.
[Image via DuoSkin Press Kit]