Metallic tattoo

Temporary Tattoos That Will Let You Control Your Devices

Concert goers at Coachella wore these golden accessories to complement their free-spirited outfits. Your favorite celebrity was wearing them while sneaking into Nobu. Perhaps even you posted a picture or two on social media of yourself wearing them. If you did, then you know metallic temporary tattoos were one of the biggest streetwear items the last few summers.

Temporary tattoos are no longer only for your younger siblings. Companies, like Flash Tattoo, reimagined tattoos to appeal to an older, yet nostalgic, millennial crowd. The “grown-up” tattoos, made of gold or silver, are intricately designed. And they provide a unique, but ephemeral, way of modifying the body. With advances in technology, temporary metallic tattoos are being used to send data, monitor your health and replace well-loved electronics like your iPhone.

RELATED: 5 Amazing Beauty Innovations to Get Excited About

Temporary tattoos meet technology

Researchers at MIT Media Lab partnered up with Microsoft Research to develop DuoSkin, a temporary metallic tattoo that turns your skin into an interface for a computer or smartphone. They created 3 types of devices: one for sensory input, another for thermochromic output and a third for communicating information. With the touch of your finger, you can move a cursor or push a button on your computer. Or let someone know your mood based on your body temperature, like a mood ring.


A team of researchers and engineers, headed by PhD student, Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, developed the technology. Yay for brainy girl power!

In the future, you may accept calls without touching your phone, check your heart rate during your morning run or tell someone to go away without saying a word!

Curious about how it works? Watch the video below to see these temporary metallic tattoos in action:

DuoSkin: Functional, stylish on-skin user interfaces from MIT Media Lab on Vimeo.

Making my own metallic temporary tattoos

Along with the video above, there’s an easy to read research paper to accompany it. Based on the process described in this paper, I tried constructing my very own temporary tattoo albeit without the cool electronics.

Using tattoo paper, adhesive vinyl as a stencil, sheets of gold leaf and an electric paper cutter I made this pretty cool star tattoo:

Metallic temporary tattooMetallic temporary tattoo

My temporary tattoo came out great but it was NOT easy. The process of layering everything together wasn’t intuitive. So, it took me a few tries to produce the gold star you see above.  By the end of the day, I was still finding gold flecks on my clothes but I had a great time creating it.

Let me know below if you want to see my process!

As for the future of temporary tattoos…

MIT isn’t the only one making multi-use temporary tattoos. To see more about the future of technology + tattoos, check out this video from Mashable featuring Tech Tats:

What do you think? Would you wear an electronic temporary tattoo? Let me know in the comments below!

XO Zuri


  1. Jenn

    That’s super interesting!


  2. Maya Simone

    I really loved this post! This is something that I would definitely be interested in buying for the festivals and events that are happening this summer and the end of the year college parties! I also really appreciated the videos you shared because I was having a hard time picturing exactly what this tech would look like. It’s nice to see girl power hard and at work 😉


  3. Natalia Lilly

    I love these temporary tattoos for summer time music festivals and beach days!


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