The brilliant minds at MIT Media Lab partnered with Microsoft Research to create fashionable, wearable interfaces called DuoSkin. The researchers decided to make these temporary tattoos from gold leaf, the very same material that is often found in types of vodka or picture frames, to aid in conductivity. This material was chosen specifically because it was cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, Ph.D. Student at the MIT Media Lab, released a video explaining the three different functions of DuoSkin: Input, Output, and Communication.
Using DuoSkin, they created on-skin input elements that resemble traditional user interfaces, such as buttons, sliders, and 2D trackpads. This can be used as a way to raise or lower volume, scroll through a page open on your phone, and more.
DuoSkin makes temporary tattoos even more an extension of oneself by allowing them to change color based on body temperature and mood, giving the example of a fire that would light up to show your emotion.
This on-skin interface is completely wireless to exchange data. The devices contain a chip that connects to a coil, fabricated using gold leaf and customized to various shapes and sizes. This could be for a number of different uses, such as NFC tags to read data directly off your skin.
The functionality of DuoSkin is even more impressive considering the fact that MIT Media Lab wants it to be accessible to everyone. The materials are all very economical, and the circuitry can be sketched from any graphic design software, even Paint.
Then, the user would apply gold leaf as the conductive material. After completing the necessary steps, you apply DuoSkin water-transfer exactly like a temporary tattoo.
The possibilities of this design, both for functionality and fashion, are endless.
The full video posted on MIT Media Lab’s website is found here.