Google Skin Marks. Smart tattoos that turn your skin into a sensor touch pad


Google is working to develop smart tattoos that transform the human body into a live touch pad by implanting sensors in the skin. This project is part of Google Research’s research programs, called Skin Marks, and it uses temporary tattoos.

The project comes as part of efforts to create the latest generation of wearable tech devices.

The technology works as follows:

  • Tattoos containing the tentacles are placed on a part of the body.
  • These sensors can then be activated by touch or conventional displacement movements found on smartphones.
  • There are some additional signals dedicated to the surface of the skin as well. You can press the area around the tattoo or bend the fingers or extremities to activate the sensors.

The researchers at the University of Saarland, Germany, wrote in a white paper that the benefits of using the skin as a touch interface are “the exploitation of fine motor skills that humans naturally possess.”

The project is partially funded by the Google Community Research Rewards Program. And the interaction with the skin and extremities means you can do so without even having to look at the controller. Tattoos are made by printing conductive inks on tattoo paper. Some prototypes of tattoos include drawings of cartoon characters or illuminated shapes.

“By reducing the thickness of the tattoo and increasing its stretchiness, the skin mark becomes thin and flexible enough to fit into irregular geometric shapes, such as folds of skin and prominent bones,” the researchers write.