Future Tense

The Next Phase of Wearable Tech: Tattoos

This video introduces DuoSkin, a new piece of wearable tech co-developed by MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research. It’s a fantastic idea: a paint-on temporary tattoo with circuitry that makes it an on-skin interface with three practical applications. It’s a trackpad, it’s a display, and it can hold data.

The tattoos use near-field communication to connect with other devices. This is the same protocol your phone uses for cashless payments at stores and gas stations. The tattoos are made from gold leaf, a benign-for-your-body material you may have even eaten as a decoration on a fancy chocolate.

The tattoos work as displays capable of changing in response to body temperature or feelings—mood tattoos, essentially. They also hold data, so it’s easy to imagine something like DuoSkin replacing, for instance, boarding passes and movie tickets on your phone.

That said, this would all mean nothing if this particular type of wearable tech didn’t look like something someone would want to wear. With metallic gold and silver geometric patterns, though, they’re just flashy enough to potentially be on trend. They’d make quite the personal statement even before you switched them on.