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MIT and Microsoft’s smart tattoos can control your phone

PhD students and a team from Microsoft Research have developed a new system called DuoSkin – a kind of ‘smart’ tattoo capable of turning your skin into an interface to control your phone.

The temporary tattoos are made of gold leaf, which is capable of conducting electricity, and other components to make them interactive.

A full explanation of DuoSkin’s functionality appears in a paper available on the official site, due to be presented at a wearables symposium next month.

The system is demonstrated as working in three ways: turning your skin into a trackpad or button, changing colour based on your body temperature, and storing data which can be read by any NFC-enabled device, such as a smartphone.

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MIT also demonstrates on the project’s website, how LED lights can be attached to the gold leaf design, creating a display on the skin.

One of the lead researchers, Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, explained how any graphics software can be used to create circuit patterns before the layer of gold leaf is applied.

The tattoo itself is applied as easily as a temporary tattoo by sticking it on the skin, and using a damp cloth before peeling off the tattoo paper.

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As the website explains: “DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry.

“…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.”

Useful and stylish? We’re sold.

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