Thanks to a new research project out of MIT's Media Lab, regular flash tattoos are a thing of the past. Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a Ph.D. student at MIT, collaborated with Microsoft Research to create Duoskin, a set of gold and silver temporary tatts that do a whole lot more than give your skin a little sparkle. The team will be presenting their creations in September at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers, but here's the scoop on the genius devices they've dreamed up.
The researchers were able to create three different uses for these ornamental yet functional body accents, which are made from gold leaf metal and can be made in pretty much any design you choose. First, a tattoo can be used as a trackpad to control a screen (like your phone) or perform simple tasks, like adjusting the volume on a speaker. Second, tattoos can be created that allow the design to change colors based on your mood or body temperature. Lastly, a small chip can be embedded in a design, allowing you to seamlessly transfer data from your skin to another device. The research team behind these believes that "on-skin electronics" are the way of the future, allowing user-friendliness and body decoration to coexist in harmony. They can even do purely aesthetic stuff, like embed LED lights in a flash tattoo necklace.
Of her inspiration for creating these tattoos, Kao says "There's no fashion statement greater than being able to change how your skin looks." When we think about it, it would be pretty cool if the tattoos of the future all had some hidden use, whether it's monitoring a specific health issue like food allergies or low blood sugar, or collecting specific data about your body, like your heart rate. Imagine having a temporary flash tattoo that monitors your heart rate during your workout. When you're done, you swipe your phone over the embedded chip and get a full read of your workout instantly. You'd be able to track your progress without any bulky equipment, essentially creating the lightest, easiest to wear fitness tracker ever. Pretty cool, right? (It might be a little while before these are available, so in the meantime, check out 8 New Fitness Bands We Love)