Your Flash tattoo is now an iPad

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Well, sort of

    Music festival season has well and truly been in full swing, so we’re putting money on the fact that you’ve probably sported a Flash tattoo at some point – you know, those gold tattoos in all sorts of shapes and designs. They give some sort of supernatural vibe to your whole look, but imagine if we told you that they could turn you into some sort of robot.

    That’s exactly what a group of scientists at MIT’s Media Lab have been working towards, creating temporary tattoos called DuoSkin that can turn you into part machine (sort of). There are three different classes of tattoos that can be applied to your skin and worn for reading, sharing and exchanging information by using NFC (near field communication) smart tags, which are readable to anything with NFC tags as well.

    In layman terms, they’re using real gold leaf patterns to turn your skin into a touch pad interface that can allow you to control things like, the song playing on your iPhone and show you things like how fast your heart is beating by changing colour. And that’s not the limit…

    ‘It very easily could replace an ID badge [that you use to get into your office] or your subway card,’ says Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab who worked on DuoSkin. ‘Those are the practical examples. A more futuristic one is that you could kind of have Facebook on your arm in that you could reveal details about yourself and read that data off of other people’s skin.’

    Although the tattoos that were produced in the lab are prototypes and not products available in store, anyone with a printer can make tats like these right now. “That’s the magic,” Kao tells Allure. “You don’t need to wait for us to bring it to market. Today, you could go out and buy gold metal leaf from a craft store, which costs around ten bucks. Buy an electronic cutter [necessary to accurately cut the design], which is about $150. The NFC tag—the integrative chip—is around two dollars. This is affordable.”

    Consider this the definition of future beauty…

    Reading now