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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X017834/1
Title: Digital Tattoo: Using Programmable Ink to Create On-Body Displays
Principal Investigator: Roudaut, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Zhang, Professor Z
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Swansea University University of Bristol
Department: Computer Science
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 January 2023 Ends: 31 December 2024 Value (£): 201,921
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries Information Technologies
Sports and Recreation
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Jun 2022 New Horizons 2021 Full Proposal Panel Announced
22 Jun 2022 New Horizons People and Interactivity Panel June 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
We want to radically rethink the way we use digital ink made of programmable particles that change color to create digital tattoos. Imagine a tattoo that disappears or changes of visual on-demand, or adapt to the context you are in. Our goal is to create accessible fabrication methods to create programmable ink, produce a needle injection tool to embed programmable ink within skin, and design tools to activate the color change and explore innovative application scenarios. With such far-reaching idea, comes extensive challenges: is it viable in term of end-user's usability and safety? Is it technically feasible? What are ethical implications to open-up the usage of programmable ink?

At the usability and implications level, we will engage with communities to gather applications for digital tattoos and interaction with them. We will study end-user acceptability and comfort around type of embodiment (ephemeral, removable, definitive). We will engage with maker communities (tattoo artists, DIY makers, biohackers) to explore how the democratisation of programmable ink can impact their research and study the risks and benefits to disseminate such inks.

At the technical level (via hardware design, implementation, and evaluation) we will use black and white microcapsules and investigate how to inject them in silicon-based artificial skin made in our laboratory to understand the requirements for actuation; we will expand to the fabrication of bio-compatible microcapsules through testing with bio-printed in-vitro skin made in our laboratory to investigate user's safety requirement.

Our project is highly speculative, but we want to stay within the remit of safe research: injecting active ink into a human participant requires a substantial body of work and medical expertise which is out of scope of this proposal. But we believe our programme will underpin the science needed to reach this stage as a future step. We will aim to use this opportunity to lay the groundwork and gather requirements for a large-scale funding opportunity.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk