MIT Unveils Smart Tattoo: DuoSkin is an On-skin User Interface

DuoSkin capacitive touch slider made from gold and silver leaf. (Photo: Jimmy Day)

DuoSkin capacitive touch slider made from gold and silver leaf. (Photo: Jimmy Day)

Scientists at the MIT Media Lab partnering with the Microsoft Research Centre recently created smart tattoos called DuoSkin.

DuoSkin is an on-skin wearable user interface that looks like a real decorative tattoo. In fact DuoSkin temporarily transforms your skin into an input touchpad, an output display or even a data storage. Just imagine how natural it could be to control your music player with a gentle touch on your arm. Moreover check out the following video made by the MIT scientists.

DuoSkin is possible because wearable technology is so small now

Wearable devices electronics is so small now, that almost everything can be smart: Smart necklaces, smart rings, smart fingernails and even smart skin for insulin patients.
Because of this DuoSkin was just the logical next step: Smart skin that is not used for medical purpose but for everyday entertainment use.

The Project originated from the growing trend of metallic and jewelry like temporary tattoos

Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao

Besides that, MIT Media Lab PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao states that the project originated from the growing trend of metallic and jewelry like temporary tattoos. To make a smart tattoo even more fashionable it is also possible to embed lightning LEDs to the tattoo. Get inspired by the LED Henna Tattoos that make you look like a cyborg.

DuoSkin 2D trackpad. (Photo: Jimmy Day)

DuoSkin 2D trackpad. (Photo: Jimmy Day)

The technology behind the smart tattoo

Technically seen, DuoSkin is nothing else than an electric circuit directly placed on top of your skin.

Gold leaf is the key material for the DuoSkin. In detail, the gold leaf electrode sits on top of an insulation layer and an adhesive tattoo paper. To protect the touch electrode an additional silicon overlay paper is placed on top.

To sum it up, main advantages that gold leaf provides are: It is electrically conductive, skin friendly, cheap, highly available, looks fashionable and has a thickness of only 2 µm. These properties make the gold leaf an excellent choice for a smart tattoo.

DuoSkin provides 3 different classes of functionality

Currently the scientists are able to create 3 different classes of user interfaces:

  1. Turn your skin into a trackpad
    Use your tattoo trackpad for example to control or adjust your music player.
  2. Display information on your skin
    Display information with thermochromic layers that will change colors when the temperature of your skin raises.
  3. Store data
    Store data that can be read by other devices via wireless NFC communication (=NFC tag).
DuoSkin allows users to create three types of user interfaces: 1) input on skin through capacitive touch sensing,2) output on skin through thermochromic resistive heating circuitry, and 3) wireless communication through NFC. (Photo: Jimmy Day)

DuoSkin allows users to create three types of user interfaces: 1) input on skin through capacitive touch sensing,2) output on skin through thermochromic resistive heating circuitry, and 3) wireless communication through NFC. (Photo: Jimmy Day)

The DuoSkin will be very inexpensive

According to the MIT scientists, the fabrication process for a smart tattoo is easy. At first can use any graphic design software to design the electric circuit. In the next step you can use a very cheap vinyl cutter to cut the circuit. Then complete your circuit with additional electronics. After you have finished the tattoo place it anywhere on the skin with the common water-transfer method.

"DuoSkin’s

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