First ever remote tattoo! Woman gets inked from 300 miles away
A tattoo artist in London was able to give a woman in the Netherlands a tattoo by operating a robotic arm in a world-first experiment.
T-Mobile Netherlands teamed up with London-based technologist Noel Drew to put on the stunt, enlisting the help of tattoo artist Wes Thomas to perform it.
As is true with any experiment, the set-up and planning took a decent amount of time. Deciding on test subject wasn't an easy process, either.
They eventually found the perfect model in Dutch actor Stijn Fransen, who agreed to get a small tattoo on her forearm as part of the human trial.
To nail the accuracy of the robotic arm and how it responds to human skin, Drew and Thomas worked together for six weeks perfecting the strokes and movement used in the ancient art of tattooing.
Drew described the time spent with Thomas to the New York Post as "fascinating and terrifying." He continued, "The tattoo artist has a deep understanding of human skin, which changes hugely depending on the location on the body and also from person to person."
Many trial runs were done on butternut squash to figure out the logistics of the process before trying it on human skin.
The future of old-school tattooing is not at risk
Thomas drew the design on a replica of an arm. The strokes were sent to the robotic arm in the Netherlands and then applied directly to Fransen's skin.
This human test run went so well that Drew even went under the robotic arm for a commemorative tattoo of his own.
Bonding with a tattoo artist is part of what makes visiting a shop so special and personal, which is something Drew wanted to be sure remained sacred, saying, "I wasn’t trying to replace traditional tattooing [or] the human aspect of tattooing with this robot-led concept."
Drew's souvenir tattoo, a symbol of an incandescent lightbulb, signified the experiment's combining of technology and creative, ancient artistry.
The novel test run is proof that robots can be used in a creative and safe ways without taking over the world.
Cover photo: IMAGO / Addictive Stock