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DuoSkin Smart Tattoos Can Control Electronic Devices

Updated on January 27, 2018
Types of tattoos
Types of tattoos | Source

If you see a man with a tattoo, you will probably think he’s dangerous or even cool. The art of tattoos has become much more than a drawing; it represents one’s status, attitudes, and beliefs. But until now, we couldn’t imagine a tattoo representing a wearable tech device which transforms you into one big microchip. In the future, tattoos will become much more than drawings and inscriptions. Thanks to the research team from MIT and Ph.D. student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, the people around the world will use their smart tattoos to control their electronic devices. No, it’s not science fiction, and you’re not dreaming, this thing has all the possibilities to become one of the greatest high-tech inventions in the world.

MIT and Microsoft joint research study

MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research have developed a new temporary high-tech tattoo that allows you to use not just smartphones, but also other types of electronic devices like tablets, laptops, microphones, TVs etc. Tattoos, called DuoSkin, are part of a huge project with the goal to develop “on—skin” technologies applicable to high-tech devices. They are applied like any other temporary tattoo and made of golden and metallic leaves. If you look at them, you will think it’s a piece of jewelry and not a tattoo. Even though they are considered being prototypes that haven’t stopped the tech lovers to buzz about it and try to sign up for the free prototype.

Smart tattoos are not something that’s new on the market. L’orel issued a patch that monitors UV radiation exposure and there were some prototypes measuring the level of lactate in our organism. However, this is the first time that a team of researchers used materials which are not expensive like silver ink. They made the tattoos from materials which you can buy at any craft store. Those are imitations of gold leaves made of copper because both gold and copper serve as good conductors of electricity.

Making of DuoSkin tattoos

The process involves three phases, and it can be conducted even by a person with little knowledge about tattooing. You don’t have to go to a surgery or be afraid that something bad will happen. Volunteers who tried them design their own motifs and apply with water ink or copper tape.
The first phase comprises choosing your own design. This is not a one—size pattern. You can choose whatever suits you. By using any graphics software, people had the opportunity to create their own piece of art on their skin.
By proceeding to the next phase, volunteers get to know the process of applying the design to fabrics. They cut it out of vynil and paper and put the imitation of gold leaf to the vynil. Due to the fact that this material serves as a great conductor, tattoos become touch sensitive.
Finally, tattoos are laminated to the skin using water transfer method. This water-based ink can be easily removed afterward.

Types of DuoSkin tattoos

DuoSkin tattoos aren’t only used to display data. They have some other interesting functions as well. Basically, there are three types of tattoos: the input, the output and communication type.

1. The output type allows you to "exchange feelings" using the Couple Harmony application. During the demonstration, one person wore a "mood button" on his hand and pressed it when he felt angry. Then the tattoo flared in the form of a flame reflecting the person’s mood. It can also reflect some other types of mood so the medical scientists are already discussing the health benefits of applying these tattoos to patient’s skin. These heat processes activate the changes in the color from white to red.
2. The input type relies on the tattoo functioning as a touchpad. Imagine a computer connected to a music application and you can choose your favorite song or change the volume. You can even design a tattoo like an icon of your favorite application. If you get a new notification, the tattoo will light up.
3. The communication type puts an emphasis on NFC technology advantages. The tattoo would function as a wireless device. The information could be stored and paired with other devices. For example, you could carry all your personal data with you and allow others to send and receive them.

In their research paper, the MIT team concluded: “It is our vision that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; but 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. “We aim to make durable and skin-friendly on-skin user interfaces available to the wider community, using commodity materials, electronic components, and fabrications processes.”


First smart tattoo

© 2018 Fatima Memija Bahtic


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