First, there were magnetic eyelashes — now, there are touchscreen tattoos. The future is definitely here, and it’s a lot prettier than we ever could have imagined. A collaboration between MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research has led to a prototype called DuoSkin, and it will have you wearing metallic flash tattoos well beyond your next New Year’s Eve party or music festival weekender.
Duoskin is a gold leaf temporary tattoo that can be used as a touchscreen. Yes, you read that right. Using gold leaf as a conductor, 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,” according to the MIT Media Lab website.
So far, they’ve been able to embed LEDs into the tattoos, allowing the tattoo design to light up on your skin, as shown above. They’ve also turned them into trackpads that let you change the music on your device simply by touching your skin. There’s even some that change color based on your emotions, basically the 21st-century version of a mood ring.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD student at MIT, helped develop these super gorgeous prototypes, noting that she was inspired by cosmetics and street fashion in Taiwan. She also said the researchers wanted this technology to be accessible to everyone, and that’s why they pulled from the aesthetic of metallic flash tattoos and used gold leaf as the conductor. Gold leaf is readily available at any craft store, and it’s not very expensive.
You’ll have to watch the video to see the tattoos in action. It’s pretty mesmerizing, and it paves a whole new fashionable road in wearable tech. We do have one call-out, though: While the video showed several users with different skin tones wearing the tech, it didn’t show anyone with permanent tattoos. When the Apple Watch was released, it had issues working on users with tattooed skin, specifically tattoos with red ink. We’re not sure if that might happen here, but regardless, we’re still really excited.