Microsoft and M.I.T have published a paper on their DuoSkin project (via The Verge), which will be officially presented this September as part of the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Germany. Here’s a basic description of how their project works:
DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, a material that is cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear, we demonstrate three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication. DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. DuoSkin devices enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style. We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead, they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and aesthetics of body decorations, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that it has seemingly disappeared.
The DuoSkin tattoo circuitry is created first with graphic design software, then fabricated by first creating stencils of the circuitry and then applying gold leaf for its conductive material. Finally, the electronics are mounted, and the DuoSkin tattoo is applied on a person’s skin with a water-based transfer process.