In yet another wearable project, Google wants to transform the skin into a touchpad through tattoos. SkinMasks, as they are called internally, are henna tattoos loaded with sensors that detect direct touches and convert them into commands.
So far, the project is exclusively experimental and is far from being made available to the public due to numerous factors – including usability. Removable tattoos are equipped with touch sensors and can be placed on various areas of the body, detecting simple touches or gestures as soon as they are activated.
The advantage? Take advantage of muscle memory and all the gestures we already know. Shaking hands, touching the body itself, and other more peculiar actions could bring the body closer to devices and expand the possibilities for input devices.
The idea is to make the interaction with technology more natural and integrate your body into the systems. The touch between fingers could serve to control media, while other gestures could trigger the camera for photographs, erase the screen, and answer calls.
“SkinMask is thin and flexible enough to accommodate irregular surfaces, such as protruding tendons and bones”, was described in one of the project documents, prepared by researchers at Saarland University.
On the video, the tattoos appear responsive and capable of detecting a wide variety of gestures – some of them even with a single hand. However, the project is in its early stages and is far from the look of a product. In addition, tattoos still require the presence of an Arduino module to function.
In an article (in English only), CNET brought together several of the curious inventions that are tested internally at Google. In addition to the touch-sensitive tattoo, the company is working on virtual reality controls that simulate virtual object weights and glasses that project holographic icons.
Like SkinMask, all projects are at an early stage and may not even leave the labs. Despite this, it is interesting to see how Google tries to explore technologies that are still unheard of and to check their sales potential. Will we have some curious inventions in stores soon?