The Emergence of Functional Body Art

EHL Editorial Team | 20 Sep, 2016

Over the last decade, consumer technology has surpassed even the wildest imaginations of science-fiction writers. The fantastic gadgets which used to mesmerize movie-goers and readers have become commonplace, and even an essential part of modern life. From smartphones to self-driving cars, technology has evolved at an incredible rate.

Today, wearable tech is among the hottest new trends which are promising to revolutionize the way we live. Over 20% of Americans used wearable technology in 2015. Taking the concept of wearables to the next logical step, researchers have created digital tattoos.

The use of the term “digital tattoo” is more of a marketing ploy than an accurate description of the product itself. Digital tattoos have more in common with the temporary tattoos found in toy stores, than the permanent, needle and ink variety.

Digital tattoos are simply ultra-thin and flexible electronics created from highly-conductive materials, such as gold leaves, which are placed directly on the user’s skin. A digital tattoo allows the wearer to interact with other electronic devices around him in a number of unique ways.

DuoSkin is an example of the future direction of this new technology. Developed through a collaboration between MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research, the DIY DuoSkin fabrication process allows users to create digital tattoos which are inexpensive, attractive, safe, highly customizable, and unlike other forms of body art, functional as well.

The developers of digital tattoos believe their products will have a large number of real-world applications.

The simplest digital tattoos allow wearers to conveniently input and display information, as well as easily communicate wirelessly with a wide number of devices using battery-free Near-Field Communication (NFC). More complex versions of digital tattoos have sensors which can monitor a wearer’s vital signs and provide lifesaving medical information.

Digital tattoos can be utiltized by the hospitality industry, especially in a resort, cruise ship, or hotel setting:

  • A guest’s personal digital tattoo can replace his room card and even credit card. This will reduce lost cards, and make it easier and more convenient for guests to spend money on the property,
  • Reservations for dinner, as well as booking for other services and activities, are easily stored on a guest’s digital tattoo,
  • Digital tattoos can be used to control electronic devices in guest rooms, and access to a variety of resort amenities.

The technology can also be used by the resort's staff. Digital tattoos can help to:

  • Control the access of staff to certain areas to increase productivity and reduce theft, 
  • Ensure workers are on time, and where they are supposed to be throughout the workday.

Although there are many possible benefits to the hospitality industry through the use of digital tattoos, there are a number of reasons why digital tattoos may not be work for every property. Digital tattoos are:

  • Expensive. The cost for a 3 x 4 cm NFC-enabled digital tattoo is around $2.50,
  • Temporary. Depending on the activities of a guest or employee, digital tattoos may have to be frequently replaced which can lead to an expensive and frustrating experience
  • Little known. Hospitality properties may face resistance from guests who may be uncomfortable with the idea of using a digital tattoo.

Whether you are ready for it or not, new technology, like digital tattoos, is coming. Understanding how to best apply high-tech solutions will have a huge affect on your ability to run a successful property.

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