DuoSkin: MIT and Microsoft Develop Temporary, Interactive Tattoos

‘Your style is your visual interface with the rest of the world.’ – Cintra Wilson

For many, the ability to change their skin through tattooing is the ultimate fashion expression. MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research have teamed up to create a new type of temporary tattoo called DuoSkin that takes this self-expression to a new level. The technology allows anyone to create customized, wearable circuits simply using store bought craft materials!

The tattoos are made possible with the use a gold leaf, a material able to conduct electricity that has traditionally been used in painting frames, or used decoratively in vodka or on chocolates.

The team explains the relatively simple process for shaping the tattoos. First, the shape of the circuit is created using any type of graphic design software. Next, the pattern is cut out of a sandwich of tattoo paper and vinyl and then coated with gold leaf, the latter of which makes the tattoo conductive to electricity and responsive to touch.

The MIT Media Lab explains that there are three classes of device contained within the tattoos. The first class of tattoo is as an input device, turning the surface of your tattooed skin into a trackpad or controller for your music player. The second class is an output display tattoo. This could include for instance a rose that changes colour depending on your body temperature, or a flame that lights up when you feel anger. The final class is a communication device that can be used to read data directly off the skin, like a scan bar.

The team has also integrated heat-sensitive pigments, as well as LEDs, into these tattoos so they have potential application as medical devices.

So in the future when you visit a tattoo parlour, you might just want to enquire about an interactive tattoo!