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A Robot Arm Performs the ‘World’s First’ Remote Tattoo

Tattoos are a pretty big deal for most people. The decision of what to get, location, and size are certainly all very important questions to ask yourself. But the most important choice is who you will trust to put something that’s meant to be permanent on your body. Most people want to go to someone with ample experience but every tattoo artist has to start somewhere right? The thought of seeing a newbie is kind of scary but imagine if that new person wasn’t a person at all. A Netherlands woman did just that by allowing a robot arm to perform the “world’s first” remote tattoo.

This story, which we picked up via Design Taxi, is an interesting one that truly shows off technology’s incredible advances. Actress Stijn Fransen teamed up with T-Mobile Nederland and Noel Drew, a London technologist, to get her tattoo in the Netherlands. Meanwhile tattoo artist Wes Thomas did all the robot arm controlling from all the way in London. The robot arm went through weeks of intense testing at Drew’s The Mill design studio to work out any kinks. The test subjects? Butternut squashes of course.

The team had to account for things that human tattoo artists do like dipping their needles in ink and their keen understanding of skin. The ink problem became obsolete with a cool reservoir system; but it took more finesse to get past a person’s innate knowledge of how to tattoo another living human being. Fransen’s skin was pulled taunt with bandages and her arm got strapped to a table to ensure stillness. Somehow, she kept her cool through it all.

a split photo of a woman on one side getting a remote tattoo done by a robot arm and a man on the other side controlling the functions

T-Mobile Nederland

This remote tattoo project is certainly not a push to replace human tattoo artists. Instead, its all about showing the wide boundaries of remote communication and 5G cellular technology. “I wasn’t trying to replace traditional tattooing [or] the human aspect of tattooing with this robot-led concept,” Drew says in a PC Mag interview. “I’ve been careful not to be seen as trivializing the art form, especially after getting such an understanding of it.”

It’s pretty cool to watch but we think we will stick to a good old-fashioned human for our tattoo needs.