Wearable tech comes in many forms these days, and most are things you already wear: watches, glasses, bracelets, earrings--even socks. But if those objects are too unwieldy for you, you now have the option of wearing tech in a new form: tattoos.

MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research have created a connected temporary tattoo called DuoSkin that sends signals to your devices and can relay information about your body. It was first spotted by TechCrunch.

The metallic-looking tattoos use gold leaf, the stuff found on top of a fancy dessert or in a bottle of Goldschlager, to conduct electricity. They operate via tiny computer chips under the material's surface.

Creating the tattoo is actually pretty simple: The wearer designs it using any graphic design software (even Microsoft Paint will do). A vinyl cutter then slices a sheet of paper with the gold leaf layered on top, and the wearer applies it to their skin with warm water like any temporary tattoo.

When tapped, the tattoos can send inputs, like raising the volume on your music or skipping a track, to your computer or smartphone. They can also be used to read data off the skin--a video from the MIT lab shows a wearer scanning her tattoo with her phone, causing a movie ticket to pop up on the screen.

Another use, which could be the most useful in the long term: The tattoos can change color to communicate information about your mood or body temperature. Imagine applying this to the skin of someone with an illness--especially a child or anyone else who could have trouble communicating--so that it could give alerts to any sort of changes to vital signs.

The development inches human beings just a little bit closer to becoming cyborgs, but the tech has numerous useful applications. Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, says in the demo video that she envisions being able to get these tattoos at standard parlors someday.

Watch the video below to see the technology in action.

Published on: Aug 12, 2016