MIT and Microsoft Research creates DuoSkin smart tattoo that turns skin into touchpad

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with Microsoft Research has created a smart tattoo named DuoSkin. It is a wearable gadget that can be affixed to the skin. When worn, DuoSkin will look similar to that of a normal tattoo but functions like a smart device. It has an ability to convert the skin as a touchpad to enable you to control other gadgets such as smartphones. The new DuoSkin smart tattoo was developed after gaining inspired by metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos. The MIT and Microsoft Research team created an on-skin user interface smart gadget using gold leaf.

Typically found in craft stores, the Gold leaf is a material also used as a smart conductor. According to a leading tech publication, the Gold leaf is not only durable but also can withstand skin deformations on body motions.

DuoSkin displays user information

In addition to simply being a trackpad or a button to control your smartphone remotely, a smart tattoo can also display information about the user. Commenting on the development of DuoSkin, Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, lead researcher disclosed that the smart tattoo may also be used for wireless communication.

DuoSkin an alternative to identification cards

The new DuoSkin smart tattoo can be tagged with a near field communications (NFC) device. It will have small microchips that can not only store data but also can be read by smartphones or other NFC devices. The smart tattoo can also be used as a substitute for subway cards, identification cards or movie tickets.

Meanwhile, Kao revealed that the new smart tattoo is a pilot project and not a product. According to researchers, other third-party companies will be able to make use of the technology behind the creation of smart tattoo to create their own products. In future, we can expect smart tattoos like DuoSkin to replace smart watches. You can simply place the smart tattoo on the skin just like a regular tattoo trough water-transfer.

DuoSkin – Cost effective

Even though the idea of using the skin as a touchscreen is not really new, it is tedious and expensive for the development of other similar devices. Aimed at budget users, the DuoSkin is a cheaper and cost effective way compared to other versions.

Designed to last for few days, the smart tattoo will be showcased in Heidelberg, Germany, at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers next month. Responding to media queries, Kao added that there is no fashion statement greater than being able to change how your skin looks.

Earlier in May, both MIT and Microsoft Research presented a paper at the ACM CHI conference in San Jose, California about the relevance of tattoo fabrication process. During the presentation, the name smart tattoo was derived.

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