MIT Media Lab Created Tattoos That Double as On-Skin Devices

They could change color based on your emotion, control other gadgets, and more.


A DuoSkin tattoo/photo courtesy of DuoSkin

Remember when Flash Tattoos were trendy? A group from MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research just blew those out of the water.

Led by MIT’s Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, the cohort created DuoSkin, metallic tattoos that act as on-skin devices. On the surface, they’re just gold leaf tattoos. In reality, though, DuoSkin creations are tiny feats of engineering.

The tattoos come in three classifications: input, output, and communication devices. The input models can become trackpads or tools for controlling other gadgets, such as music players; output versions could, for example, change color based on your body temperature or emotion; and communication devices could read data straight from your skin, acting as a barcode of sorts. All three are way cooler than the regrettable ink you got on your 18th birthday.

“There is no fashion statement greater than being able to change how your skin looks,” Kao says in a preview video. “They will not only be very sophisticated technically, but they will become an extension of yourself.”

DuoSkin isn’t ready to hit the market yet—the group won’t even officially present its paper until September, at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers—but for now, you can sate your curiosity with this explainer video: