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Luxury Retail | May 21, 2024

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DuoSkin:Functional, stylish on-skin user interfaces - Luxury Retail

DuoSkin:Functional, stylish on-skin user interfaces

MIT’s DuoSkin turns temporary tattoos into on-skin interfaces

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created a series of smart temporary tattoos that can control devices through touch.

The team, led by PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, designed the DuoSkin transfers to look like gold and silver flash tattoos, popular at music festivals.

But unlike regular stick-ons, DuoSkin is made from gold metal leaf. As a conductive material, it can interact with an electronic circuit that responds to touch.


In the current prototype, the gold leaf traces are connected to a microcontroller and wireless communication unit that enables interaction with smartphones, computers and other devices.

Working alongside Microsoft’s research division, the group developed four patterns for four different uses. They created a simple button for single clicks, a slider for single scrolls, a slider for continuous scrolls, and a more complex lattice shape for a trackpad.

As well as the touch-input tattoos, Kao has developed a prototype for output-display tattoos, which use thermochromic dyes that change colour based on your body temperature.

The final prototype includes near-field communication (NFC) tags, which means data can be stored on your skin and read by NFC-enabled devices. Other experiments included embedding LEDs into the circuit.

While Kao’s metallic transfers would be used to control devices, materials scientist John Rogers created a similar tattoo-like electronic mesh that monitors temperature, hydration and strain.