Back in May, researchers showed off a method of controlling a smartwatch whereby a wearer moves a finger across their skin. Now, a team from MIT and Microsoft Research has developed a similar skin interface that’s not only more advanced but also stylish.
The “DuoSkin” fabrication process enables anyone to create metallic temporary tattoos that can be used to control and communicate with devices and even display information. It uses conductive gold leaf, which can be found in everything from chocolates to vodka, as a base material because of its low cost and “skin friendliness.”
The circuit connects to a chip that sends signals to a device. MIT Media have demonstrated how the tattoos can be used to interact with gadgets in the same way as buttons, sliders, and trackpads.
The technology’s abilities extend beyond acting as an input; the tattoos can react to the body’s temperature, changing color when a wearer’s skin heats up. They can also store information that can be accessed directly from the skin using smartphones and other NFC-enabled devices.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, one of the researchers from the team, said people could create a circuit using any graphic design software. It’s then a case of adding the gold leaf layer on top of the tattoo and applying the electronics.
This isn’t the first example of tech-loaded temporary tattoos, though many previous efforts are limited to displaying health information, whereas DuoSkin has a variety of uses. Check out the video below to find out more.