These tattoos may be temporary but the impact they’ve had on the future of wearable technology surely is not.
MIT Media Lab in collaboration with Microsoft Research has successfully fused traditional skin art practices with digital orientation in the form of their new project, DuoSkin. DuoSkin is a fabrication process producing a new generation of wearable technology which basically serves as a customizable second skin and allows the users to use it as an interface in various ways.
The temporary tattoos used in DuoSkin are made out of imitation gold leaf, used for its easy availability, cheap price and basic conductivity. It is then combined with temporary tattoo printing paper and vinyl cutter to form an electric circuit which responds to our touch.
According to a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, DuoSkin is an idea finding its origin in the metallic temporary tattoos which swept various social media platforms especially during Coachella. This might as well serve as the prime example for aesthetics combining with functionality to give rise to a project which has groundbreaking potential.
What purpose does it serve?
DuoSkin can serve as an interface in the following three ways: an input interface, an output interface and a communication interface. As an input interface, it is capable of converting one’s skin into a trackpad or slider for the connected device. As an output interface, it uses the ink-like qualities of thermochromic pigments allowing the tattoo to change its colour with changes in one’s body temperature. Finally, as a communication interface, it allows data to be stored and read by NFC (near-field communication) enabled devices.
What does the future hold for DuoSkin?
For now, DuoSkin is a project still being worked on with other prototypes in the making but it is highly suggestive of the intimate relationship humans will have with machines in not so far away future. What’s truly surprising is that its main appeal is not in its cost efficiency but rather in it aesthetic value providing people with an alternative for the cumbersome wearable tech available right now. The end goal of this project is making it so easily available to the consumer market that one can go to a tattoo parlour to get entirely customized tattoos ranging from design to functions.
DuoSkin is a dazzling example of advancements being made in the digital realm to make technology more easily accessible and more user friendly in an attempt to bring the future closer to us than ever.