There are two things that us brits love; one would be tattoos (you only need to watch 10 minutes of the E4 programme Tattoo Fixers to know that some of us are particularly relaxed at times with what we permanently place on our skin), and the other would be our smart phones (who hasn’t had to avoid someone walking with their head down, completely unaware of their surroundings because they’ve just received a new Whatsapp from that person they’re hoping to date!).
So what happens if we combine the two; imagine being able to control your phone via a tattoo…
Got your interest haven’t we? I’ve never been one to get a tattoo as I’m likely to look daft with one, as well as change my mind about what I want two months after getting inked. Students at Massachusetts-based MIT Media Lab in association with Microsoft Research have created a new type of tattoo that allows you to control devices with the simple swipe on your skin.
The new DuoSkin is a fabrication process that allows anyone to create their own temporary, functional tattoo for their skin and sounds like the perfect solution for those with ever changing tastes like me…
How does it work?
The tattoo is made from a cheap (but remember this is Microsoft so it’s not going to be found in the bin at your local £1 shop if we’re realistic), skin-friendly metal leaf material, which is commonly used for decoration and accessories (mind wonders into cake fueled dreams).
The tattoo is sketched out as skin circuitry using graphic design software (sounding geeky rather than sexy now isn’t it), before stenciling the design on the circuitry. The gold leaf metal is then added to create conductivity and the electronics are installed. The DuoSkin is then transferred to skin via water-transfer – just like those temporary tattoos you had as a child!
So basically, you get a circuit, you put it on your skin and bob’s your uncle, rather than the name that you get tattooed on your body (which let’s face it, no matter how many tequilas you’ve had is not a good idea! Nor is it original!).
What can you use it for?
Sky is the limit here; it’s not just a tattoo you know! The DuoSkin can be created in any colour and designed to be both decorative and functional, with the tattoos resembling pieces of jewellery; necklaces, bracelets, etc. Just touch the tattoo in a swiping motion to make it work. You could have a bracelet that changes, couples could use an app which allows them to see their partner’s mood (dangerous territory), or you could even use it to communicate wirelessly (beam me up Scotty!).
When can you get your hands on it?
Unfortunately, DuoSkin won’t be making an appearance in tattoo parlours or shops anytime soon.
It’s in the very early stages, and is due to be presented at a conference for wearable technology in September.
Watch this space!
We had to wait for the iWatch so we should be able to survive for a while yet…