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‘Light skin’ could be techy bodypaint of the future

Staple of prank videos, art shows and magazine photoshoots the world over, clothing-feigning bodypaint is always quite an impressive show of how easy it is to trick the human eye. But we may do away with it and perhaps even clothes altogether one day, as a new type of ‘E-Skin’ is offering the potential for lighting based clothing and informative displays, right on our skin.

Using a rubber substrate and integrating it with polymer LEDs, a group of engineers and researchers has developed a new, skin-like substance, that can light up on command. That allows for the creation of on-skin displays that could put the smart-watch to shame in the future and may one day let us walk around with clothing that is built entirely of light.

That’s a long way off of course, as right now the developers have shown a proof of concept of a countdown timer or digital clock on the back of someone’s hand, but it’s still impressive to see (thanks Ars). The E-Skin is just three micrometers thick, so could easily be adhered to just about any body part without adding weight or indeed increasing that person’s profile by any real measure.

It’s also very flexible and malleable, which would make it great for exercising and perhaps giving users an easy to read display right on their arm. The low power nature of the display technology and the fact that it can be charged up via solar power, means going for a run in the middle of the day, might be enough to keep it operating while you jog about.

While we might be a few years at least from full light-suits, in the near future it would make for a fun augmentation and could accent outfits or even mix the functional with the stylistic, giving you accessories that light up when you’re hot, or when it gets dark, giving you a wearable torch.

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KitGuru Says: If you did build a whole suit of this, the one downside would be if you ran out of power. No one wants their dress to disappear half way down the street because you forgot to plug it in overnight. 

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