MIT-Microsoft develops DuoSkin, a functional, stylish on-skin user interfaces
MIT-Media Lab and Microsoft have recently developed ‘DuoSkin’, a functional, stylish on-skin user interfaces. 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.
According to MIT-Media Lab scientists, 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, MIT Media Lab has created 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. MIT scientists 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 creation of DuoSkin device involved three-step workflow.
Step 1: Sketching skin circuitry with graphic design software.
Step 2: Fabrication, which includes: creating stencils of the circuitry, applying gold leaf as the conductive material, and mounting electronics.
Step 3: After completing the circuitry, the DuoSkin device to the user’s skin is applied through water-transfer.
There are three classes of on-skin user interfaces:
Input: Using DuoSkin, we created on-skin input elements that resemble traditional user interfaces, such as buttons, sliders, and 2D trackpads.The 2D touchpad uses row-column scanning in a two-layer construction that isolates horizontal traces from vertical traces. We fabricate the two layers separately and then apply and overlay them onto skin.
Output: DuoSkin brings soft displays onto the skin, enabled through the ink-like qualities of thermochromic pigments. These displays have two different states and color change is triggered when heated beyond body temperature. Displays can also be separated into designated parts. To activate color changes on our displays, we fabricate resistive heating elements underneath the thermochromic layer.
Communication: To exchange data across on-skin interfaces, communication needs to be wireless. DuoSkin devices communicate using NFC, whose tags comprise a chip that connects to a coil. We fabricate this coil using gold leaf, customized to various shapes and sizes.