Tattoos are becoming more and more popular for those who want to stand out from the crowd or simply express themselves.
But what if a tattoo could also act as a controller for a smartphone app or other electronic devices? And what if these tattoos were only temporary?
That’s exactly the technology that scientists at MIT and Microsoft Research are apparently cooking up, according to Mashable.
Made of materials like gold leaf and LEDs, these temporary tattoos look more like embedded jewelry on your skin than those cheap wash-on tattoos of the past.
In a paper that will be presented at the annual International Symposium on Wearable Computers in September in Heidelberg, Germany, the scientists behind the technology outline these temporary tattoos’ practical uses.
First, these tattoos could be used as an input device to control something like a smartphone app by connecting to a tiny Arduino computer paired with the app. Simply by swiping on their tattoo, the user could control things via the app, like scrolling or swiping through songs in a playlist.
The tattoo could also be used as an output device that allows the tattoo itself to function as a display that could, for example, be paired with a user’s body temperature to glow hotter when they are warmer and less so when they are cool.
And lastly, the tattoos could serve as a communication device that uses near-field communication to send data to other devices as simply as tapping a smartphone on their tattoo.
“In the future, when you walk into a tattoo parlor, you would come out with a tattoo like this,” Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD student who worked on the tattoo project, told Mashable. “They will not only be very sophisticate technically, but they will become an extension of yourself.”