CULTURE & ARTS

In The Future, All Our Electronics Will Be Embedded In Coachella-Style Tattoos

The fashionable future awaits you.

If you’ve recently been to a summertime music festival or a hip bar mitzvah, you’re likely familiar with the trend of metallic temporary tattoos. The lustrous geometric patterns can be affixed directly onto the skin, transforming your body into a fleshy canvas at your beck and call. 

DuoSkin is a new breed of gold and silver body art that allows you to adorn your skin with shimmering latticework, concentric squares or a blazing flame. They also, however, possess the ability to adjust the volume of music, read data off your skin, and change color based on your emotion. And did we mention they look v. glam? 

The brilliant minds over at MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research have teamed up to create this groundbreaking new technology of epidermal electronics. The key material is gold leaf, which helps adhere functional devices directly onto flesh.

DuoSkin offers three distinct functions for the wearer, categorized as input, output and communication.

The input option virtually turns the skin into a track pad, allowing the operator to adjust, say, music volume as if it were a remote control. Output shares the wearer’s physical state with the outside world using heating thermodynamic displays. In this case, a tattoo could change color according to body temperature or emotional state, like a mood ring.

Finally, communication reads data off the user’s skin and is able to communicate that data with other DuoSkin devices using induction. The final function, of course, is looking Beyoncé levels of fierce. 

Epidermal electronics are integrated electronics with soft, skin-like qualities. They’ve been used in the past for medical applications such as UV sensing and electrocardiograms. However, their high cost restricted the larger population from gaining access to the new technology. 

Several related projects have manufactured materials like iSkin and Skintillates to move epidermal electronics into the commodity realm, yet DuoSkin is the first to use an affordable, accessible material ― gold leaf ― that can be purchased from nearly any arts and crafts store.

Any interested individual could potentially create a tattoo of their choosing, first designing a circuit on a graphic design software, creating a stencil of the circuitry using gold leaf material, mounting the electronics and applying it to the skin with water, just like any temporary tattoo. (Not quite as simple as your average temp tat, but not too bad!) 

We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified,” the MIT Media Lab team said in a statement. “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.”

Are you ready for a future in which you can change your bodily appearance and your music volume with a single gesture? The fashionable future awaits you. 

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