Always at the forefront of innovation and invention, Google is working on the next generation of wearable technology.
This comes in the form of smart tattoos. When applied to skin, the tattoos transform the human body into a living touchpad via embedded sensors.
The wearable project is called “SkinMarks” and forms part of Google Research, an arm of the search giant that specialises in technological breakthroughs and has roots in academia.
This is how the technology works:
The sensor-driven tattoos are applied to a part of the body.
They can then be triggered by traditional touch or swipe gestures, like we perform on smartphones.
There are a few gestures that are more specific to working on the skin’s surface.
The researchers at Saarland University in Germany wrote in a white paper that the benefit of using skin as an interface “is tapping into the fine motor skills that human beings naturally have”.
“You could squeeze the area around the tattoo or bend your fingers or limbs to activate the sensors”. Interacting with your own skin and limbs also means you can do it without looking.
The tattoos are made by screen printing conductive ink onto tattoo paper.
Some of the prototype tattoos also include cartoon drawings or light up displays.
“Through a vastly reduced tattoo thickness and increased stretchability, a ‘SkinMark’ is sufficiently thin and flexible to conform to irregular geometry, like flexure lines and protruding bones,” the researchers wrote. The project is partly funded through Google Faculty Research Awards.