Hey, you wanna hear my tattoo?

A new augmented reality app allows sound files to be played from body art.
Nate's Siggard's Soundwave tattoo.

Tattoos have always been considered a visual medium.

But now can listen to them, too.

Los Angeles-based tattoo artist Nate Siggard is the creator of Skin Motion, a new mobile app that allows you to play personalized augmented reality "soundwave" tattoos out loud.  

Nate says got the idea after tattooing of some lyrics from an Elton John song on a couple of friends. "As they were leaving, my girlfriend Juliana said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we could play that song back?,' and I realized that using some technology that I had developed, that was something we could make possible."

Nate's partner Juliana and daughter Lyra, from Nate’s “I Love You” tattoo that went viral.

"The tattoo itself is like any other tattoo," Nate says, "except that we are creating the shape from the soundwave." The Skin Motion app is then used to take a picture of the tattoo, which is sent to his company. After it's processed, they'll be able to point their phone at their tattoo, he says. The app uses image recognition to find the shape of the tattoo and it plays the corresponding sound.

Why would someone want to "hear" a tattoo?

Tattoos are often very meaningful for people, Nate says. "By adding the audio, we're giving another dimension for them to express themselves… it's such a conversation starter, so it's really increasing this human connection where people are understanding each other more deeply."

Nate plans to release his Skin Motion app next month on all mobile platforms.

As for the future of technology crossing into the tattoo world? "A lot of the process in creating a tattoo is now done digitally," says Nate, citing a new app that lets you mockup the way your tattoo will look on a 3D model. "The sky's the limit."


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