Global technology giant, Google is working on smart tattoos with embedded sensors that, when applied to the skin will turn the human body into a living touchpad.
The tech giant is collaborating with researchers at Saarland University in Germany for the development of the tattoo that aims to explore the fine motor skills that humans already have. The wearable project is part of Google Research and is named “SkinMarks,” which uses rub-on tattoos and is part of Google’s effort to build the next generation of wearable devices.
How does it work?
They are temporary tattoos that users can apply easily, the same way they do it with normal ones. As in, you are taking a sheet of paper with the temporary tattoo on it, positioning it on your body somewhere and wetting it down with a sponge. Then the ink can be peeled out, leaving behind a tattoo that can be easily removed or simply disintegrates over time.
These tattoos, which are sensor-driven, can be applied to any part of the body.
Then, conventional touch or swipe movements can be used to activate the sensors, much like we do on smartphones.
There are a few movements more appropriate to work on the surface of the skin like squeezing the area around the tattoo or bending your fingers or limbs to activate the sensors.
What does the tattoo look like?
What makes SkinMarks special though, is that they’re made with conductive ink. These also include dub-millimeter electrodes for touch sensing which is not typical of a temporary tattoo.
The tattoos are made onto tattoo paper by screen printing with conductive inks.
Currently, some of the prototypes of the tattoo contain cartoon drawings or light-up displays.
What are the possibilities?
The researchers note that the human body is a “promising surface for mobile computing,” because of its large and quickly accessible areas for various interactions.
They claim that these tattoos can conform to fine wrinkles and elastic or strongly curved body locations. Hence, this opens up numerous possibilities to trigger its action. For example, pinching/squeezing a flap of skin on the upper wrist, tapping or swiping across tattooed knuckles, or bending a finger.
Also, interacting with one’s own skin and limbs gives the advantage of working on it without having to look.
Google is working on holographic glasses too that would notify users by using color-coded signals as they receive notifications on their devices. For instance, notifications like navigation directions, texts, or calendar updates would all have their own colors.