One of the recent innovations in wearable technologies is smart tattoos, a cool name for electronic circuits that can be applied to the skin. Their function is mostly to monitor health, sending signals and data to your devices in response to a certain stimulus/condition of the body. In the future, they could also replace microchips and thus expand their functions of use. They are not really wearable devices but are defined as such for their functions, not only aesthetic.
There is a lot of ongoing research on this topic: for example Harvard and MIT have been developing a smart tattoo called Dermal Abyss. Through the use of bio-sensitive ink, the adhesive is able to detect sodium and glucose levels in our body.
iSkin is a product being developed by Max Plank Institute for Informatics. In collaboration with Saarland University in Germany, the iSkin smart tattoo uses a flexible rubber silicon sticker to affix to the skin. Users also have the advantage of designing their own patterns on the iSkin patches. Its touch-sensitive surface can then be used to control various mobile devices.
In 2016, Microsoft Research and MIT Media Lab developed DuoSkin. As MIT writes, DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, the research demonstrates three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication. DuoSkin is inspired by temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. The tattoo enables users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store them on their skin.
A more recent project is Google SkinMarks. This clever tattoo can be applied by simply rubbing it on the skin. It is composed of conductive ink printed on tattoo paper and when stimulated it can transmit specific instructions to other devices. SkinMark, unlike other smart tattoos, has different designs, shapes and sizes. As a result, it can be applied to different parts of the body.
Smart tattoos are a developing technology that we will be hearing about more and more. Wednesday we will talk about the use of smart tattoos in the medical field and we’ll present one very recent project. Stay tuned!
DuoSkin – Ph. credits MIT Media Lab DuoSkin – Ph. credits MIT Media Lab DuoSkin – Ph. credits MIT Media Lab Google Skin Marks