The next generation of wearables is on the horizon, piquing the interest of both geeks and fashionistas. The MIT Media Lab has partnered with Microsoft Research to come up with Duoskin, a user interface shaped like a temporary metallic tattoo. Duoskin is an amazingly thin, gold leaf-based wearable that attaches directly to the wearer’s skin. The project leader, Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, MIT PhD Student, explains that the inspiration for the project is rooted in street fashion. As she notes, there is a widespread culture of cosmetics and street fashion in Taiwan which is easily customizable and very affordable (just like our custom metallic temporary tattoos).
Duoskin is made very similarly to any other temporary tattoos. Most of the “ingredients” are craft-store grade, such as temporary tattoo printing paper and vinyl cutter. The pigments used are certified for use in food and toys. Connectivity is achieved with gold leaf and minuscule, surface-mounted near-field communication (NFC) chips. The gold leaf used in Duoskin, however, isn’t exactly pure gold. To keep the price low, a copper-gold blend leaf was used, but without compromising the conductivity.
At this moment, the researchers have explored three possible applications for Duoskin. They can be used for touch input, as track pads and virtual control knobs for volume. They can also indicate changes in body temperature through changing color and store data and transmit it using minute NFC chips. When used for either input or output, Duoskin requires a connection to a microcontroller. Presently, the preferred choice is Arduino Mini and LiPo batteries.
The team has developed an interesting app for couples called Couple Harmony. One partner wears a red fire tattoo with thermochromic pigment. If and when the other partner presses a capacitative mood button on their forearm to signal they are angry, the flame in the fire tattoo of their partner will turn white.
Admittedly, functional temporary tattoos aren’t ground-breaking. This body art has already emerged as glucose monitor for diabetics, Motorola smartphone key and UV radiation level monitor. But this is undoubtedly the most visually captivating innovation.
Get your custom metallic temporary tattoos
Whereas Duoskin is not commercially available, mesmerizing custom temporary tattoos are. TattooFun offers metallic temporary tattoos of highest quality available, in a metallic color palette that includes gold, silver, rose gold, red and blue. You simply choose your design, fill out the order requirements and TattooFun will send you individually cut tattoos ready to be handed out and applied. If you have any questions or concerns, we’re all ears. Call us Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm PST at 888 774 3662, send us a message through our online form or text us at 760 691 2969. We’d love to hear from you!