Image: MIT Media Lab

Your next tattoo could also be used to control your computer. A new technology called DuoSkin, developed by MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research, allows anyone to create customized gold metal leaf print tattoos that can be worn directly on the skin. The temporary tattoos can be used as touchpad inputs, display outputs, and wireless communication.


“These tattoos allow anyone to create interfaces directly on their skin,” says MIT Ph.D. student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao in a video announcement of the invention. “The materials we use enable it to be aesthetic and to reflect a metallic look.”

The process is almost entirely enabled by gold leaf, which you have probably seen before in picture frames or floating in overpriced vodka.


The invention allows people to create one of three types of devices. The tattoos can be used as touchpad or as a controller inputs for things like music devices. They can also be used as an output device to show things like when a person’s body temperature. Finally, the invention can be used as a wireless communication device to host NFC tags like movie or concert tickets.

The researchers team emphasize that they want to make this system accessible to as many people as possible. Interested parties can use any graphic design program—including Microsoft Paint—to design the circuit.

Once the circuit is designed, you would then print it out using a vinyl cutter and tattoo paper. The final step is layering on the gold leaf and removing anything outside of the design. Then—boom!—apply the tattoo to your skin and start messing around with your gadgets.