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Gold leaf turned into a tattoo-interface

There are three types of gold-based interfaces: a touchpad on the right hand, an antenna with an NFC chip on the left hand, and a tattoo indicator on the shoulder. Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao / MIT Media Lab
There are three types of gold-based interfaces: a touchpad on the right hand, an antenna with an NFC chip on the left hand, and a tattoo indicator on the shoulder.
Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao / MIT Media Lab

Researchers at Microsoft Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Labs presented a joint technology developed under the name DuoSkin. The technology allows you to create easy-to-manufacture wearable interfaces based on gold leaf,  reports  TechCrunch.

The DuoSkin project involves making conductive transferable tattoos from gold leaf. For bonding with skin, a film with silicone is used, and the desired shape is achieved with the help of ordinary plotter cutting on a vinyl substrate. According to the authors, the result is a metal pattern worn on the skin, which has a certain functionality and looks like a decoration.

The authors propose to use DuoSkin as an indicator, antenna and wearable input interface – for example, as a touchpad, a “twist” or a button. To create an indicator, a layer of heat-sensitive material is added to the gold-leaf tattoo, and the antenna can be used, for example, paired with an NFC chip.

On site DuoSkin project is positioned as a technology for creating both the interface and underwear decorations. As one of the authors notes, in Thailand, for example, gold foil tattoos are very popular, which look like jewelry applied directly to the skin. DuoSkin looks almost exactly the same and at the same time has a certain functionality as an interface. According to the authors, even a person without experience with similar materials easily copes with the design and manufacture of DuoSkin.

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DuoSkin is not the first project of wearable flexible electronics based on transferable tattoos. In 2015, iSkin technology was introduced . Despite the fact that iSkin interfaces based on polydimethylsiloxane were efficient, in general, such tattoos looked cumbersome.

In addition to tattooing, there are other methods of implementing wearable interfaces. For example, experts from Seoul University presented a prototype of a soft, stretchable touchpad, and a working prototype of a touchpad attached to the thumb nail was created in the Media Lab at MIT . In addition, experts from Carnegie Mellon University have  developed a technology for using gestures and touching the skin of a user to control smart watches.

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