A couple of months ago we covered Tattio, a Microsoft Research and MIT Media Lab project experimenting with gold leaf, NFC tags and on-skin technology. Now MIT PhD student Cindy Hsin-Lin Kao is back with DuoSkin, a reworked, refined version of the tech temp tattoos.
Actually, DuoSkin isn't the stick-on wearable, it's the fabrication process for making them. It's supposed to be affordable (previously the team has said $1.50 per tat) and easy enough to set up that in future tattoo parlours could offer the service for removable, connected tats that last - for instance - one day.
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So you could design your own temp tattoo via software, then put that through a vinyl cutter and add the gold leaf and electronics.
Again, like Tattio, the DuoSkin system uses gold leaf for decoration and also to form the conductive coil that connects to an NFC tag for the communication feature we've already seen from the project. So, you can use the on-skin tech as your digital identify for authentication or maybe even payments.
But the most exciting feature is new. The on-skin controls of all your devices. The capacitive touchpad can tell the difference between vertical and horizontal traces allowing the wearer to use their skin as a trackpad, slider or button for smartphones, wearables, PCs, whatever you like.
Another idea that has been enhanced is that of output - the team has released images of colour changing, thermochromic pigment temp tattoos. Colours change between two options when body temperature rises via resistive heating sensors. There's also images showing what embedded LEDs would look like. The answer? Pretty damn cool..
The MIT blog post reads: "We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead, they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and aesthetics of body decorations."
Check out the above Vimeo from MIT Media Lab for more explanations and also have a read of the dedicated page and scientific paper for DuoSkin here. What's next? The team will present their findings at the International Symposium of Wearable Computers (ISWC) in Heidelburg, Germany which starts on 12 September.
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