It puts the technology on the skin
While some consumers, inundated with an overabundance of gadgets, may be experiencing “wearables fatigue,” innovators are hard at work finding fresh ways to integrate apparel and technology.
What can they do?
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD student at MIT, has created a wearable that is aesthetically sophisticated and technologically cutting edge. As the Internet of Things increasingly interconnects our washing machines with our smartwatches with our cellphones, this new wearable turn your skin into a communication device.
It’s called DuoSkin, and it’s hopping on the current metallic, jewelry-like temporary tattoo craze, but with a technological twist. While kids have always been suckers for the skull-and-crossbones and heart-and-arrow temporary tats you can buy for a quarter from vending machines, adults of all ages, and even Beyoncé and Rhianna, are now sporting shiny temporary tats that pose as jewelry.
Connects to your devices, reacts to biofeedback
Kao was inspired by the trend, and by gold leaf, those paper-thin glitzy bits used to gild picture frames and fancy up desserts.
Gold leaf is safe for skin, and best of all, it conducts electricity, which means it can be used to create interfaces that connect to devices.
In collaboration with Microsoft Research, Kao and her teammates at the MIT Media Lab have created three different temporary tattoo technologies. One turns your skin into a trackpad that responds to taps and swipes just like your smartphone touchscreen. Your finger becomes a mouse that can interface with your computer, mobile device, or music player. Another style changes color or lights up in response to temperature change, and a third stores information on your skin like an NFC tag. You can use your smartphone to scan the tattoo, and corresponding information will show up on your screen.
A lot of design potential
Best of all, unlike other wearables these days, DuoSkin tattoos are relatively easy and inexpensive to fabricate, meaning this wearable has the potential to be inexpensive and widely available. You can use any basic design software to draw a shape. The designs are cut with a vinyl cutter, then printed on temporary tattoo paper. The tattoo is then layered with gold leaf, and voilá! You can now transform your skin into a connected interface.
As marketing becomes increasingly interactive, and devices become ever more interconnected, DuoSkin tattoos could end up being an exciting and fashionable way to interface with technology or to share information about brands and events. The imagination is our only limit when it comes to the possible applications for DuoSkin tattoos. Stay posted – it may be the next big wearable.