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These "smart" electronic tattoos can turn your skin features into smartphone controls

20 March 2017 0

SkinMarks - created by researchers at Saarlan University in Germany, in partnership with Google, are ultrathin temporary electronic tattoos that are embedded into the skin, enabling users to control contraptions like smartphones.

Martin Weigel, the leader of the research, claims that people are fully aware instinctually about the prominent features of their skins such as birthmarks, making ideal locations for tattooing these touch-sensitive buttons. A freckle for instance, may be squeezed in order to answer a phone call.

The system makes use of conductive ink for printing wires and electrodes onto tattoo paper which are thinner than an individual human hair. These tattoos are then applied to the skin using water and will stay for a couple of days before fading away.


The tattoos are sensitive to changes in the surface of the skin, which is why several commands can be assigned to a single tattoo. Sliding your finger up a tattoo could adjust your smartphone’s volume and alternatively stop or start music by bending the same finger.

Another cool feature is that there is an electroluminescent tattoo. This may be designed in the logo of your favorite app, for example Facebook’s F logo, which will light up whenever a notification is received.

Eventually, our skins will become the medium for controlling our smartphones and other devices. Carnegie Mellon Alumni Chris Harrison has a vision that electro tattoos are going to become mainstream within the next ten years. “You’ll have these digital tattoo parlors which you can go to in 2050, and 5 minutes later you can walk out with the iPhone 22 on your forearm.”


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