Simple but powerful, these conductive tattoos communicate data and actions to paired electronic devices, translating touch actions into digital activations. As biohacking and other transhumanist interventions go, this technology represents a relatively light-touch approach with potential appeal to a broader audience beyond your typical body hacker.
A collaboration between the MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research, DuoSkin combines high-tech geekery with everyday fashion, putting circuits right on your skin for easy access. There are four essential configurations at work: a basic button for single-click actions, a slider to scroll, another slighter for continuous scrolls and a complex lattice that acts as a track pad.
They look like gold and silver flash tattoos but perform a variety of technological feats, thanks to a microcontroller and wireless communication unit. Connected to smartphones, computers or other gadgets, DuoSkin can be used like a touchpad controller, or can change color based on temperature, or can pull and transmit biological data (and combinations thereof).
Imagine: answering the phone, skipping a track in your podcast queue, turning on a TV or turning down the music with a quick swipe to your forearm. The fact that this system is easily removable is one of the key selling points, a harbinger of future mass-market tech that can be applied, taken back off and discarded, just like any other temporary tattoo.
From the design team: “DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, a material that is cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear, we demonstrate three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication.”
“DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. DuoSkin devices enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style. 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, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that it has seemingly disappeared.”