Human Skin: The Modern Trackpad Thanks to a New Type of Tattoo

Part human, part technology? MIT researchers are collaborating with Microsoft Research on skin tattoos that can serve as a connected interface to electronic devices.


We can all agree that we are attached to our devices. Well, now there’s work underway to physically integrate our beloved smartphones onto our person, transforming skin into the equivalent of a human trackpad.

According to an article in Tech Times, MIT Media Lab, in partnership with Microsoft Research, has come up with DuoSkin, a project that makes use of temporary metal-like tattoos that can be attached to human skin to serve as a connected interface. Drawing inspiration from metallic temporary tattoos commonly worn in countries like Taiwan, DuoSkin can transform the wearer’s skin into a trackpad or slider to control a connected mobile device or even a computer, the researchers said. The tattoos are capable of functioning as an output interface by creating soft displays on the skin that can change color based on skin temperature. They can also store data, which could then be detected by other device via NFC wireless technology, according to the study.

According to the article, the researchers’ vision is to make the human skin a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. They also see the temporary tattoos, made of gold metal leaf, as the inspiration for a new generation of on-skin electronics that would be a better and possibly more stylish alternative to more clunky wearables like smartwatches.

I’ll take one in silver, please.

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