ApplicationAR AppsAugmented Reality

Local LA Tattoo Artist Uses Augmented Reality to Create Tattoos You Can Hear

Augmented reality now plays an exciting role for tattoo fans as Soundwave Tattoos™ allow for up to a minute of sound permanently inscribed on their body.

About Soundwave Tattoos

Developed by Skin Motion™, Soundwave Tattoos uses an augmented reality app to combine both art and technology to create tattoos that can be played back from a mobile device.

You simply take any audio recording (up to one minute) of your loved one’s voice, a favorite song, or even your dog’s bark, and upload it to the Skin Motion app, available for both Android and iOS devices.

The app then generates a soundwave pattern that can be taken to a certified Skin Motion tattoo artist from Skin Motion’s Artist Network, who will ink it somewhere on a flat surface of your body. The soundwave tattoo can not curve around body parts, so placement is very important.

These tattoos artists need to also be certified by Skin Motion in order to make sure they thoroughly understand the technology, it’s limitations, and how that applies to tattoo placement, size, and changes to the design based on customization or elaboration per person.

Skin Motion augmented reality tattooOnce the soundwave tattoo is completed and inked on, a photo of the tattoo is taken and then uploaded to the Skin Motion platform where the audio is processed, and added to the mobile app within 24 hours. It will then be ready to use through the app by pointing the camera on a mobile device at the tattoo, and you’ll be able to hear the tattoo play back your audio. The cost to “activate” a soundwave tattoo to be played back through the Skin Motion app, is a one-time payment of $39.99, and $9.99 each year to keep it activated. This is in addition to the cost of the tattoo itself, which can vary per individual pricing of each licensed tattoo artist.

For even further creative freedom, the soundwave can be embedded as negative space within another picture as well. Some examples include filling the soundwave shape in with color, leaving it as an outline, or putting design elements around the outside of the soundwave outline.


About Marker-Based Augmented Reality

Skin Motion augmented reality tattoo
Skin Motion; Baci the singing dog Soundwave Tattoo

Soundwave tattoos use a form of augmented reality known as “marker-based” augmented reality. This type of augmented reality uses a camera an a type of visual marker, such as a soundwave, to produce a result only when the marker is sensed by a reader.

Marker-based applications use a camera on a mobile device to distinguish a marker away from any other real world, physical object. Distinct, but simple patterns, such as a QR code, are used as these markers because they are easily recognizable, and do not require a lot of processing power to electronically read.

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How Soundwave Augmented Reality Tattoos Began

The soundwave tattoo idea came about when two friends decided to tattoo the opening lyrics from the song, “Tiny Dancer,” by tattoo artist Nate Siggard. As the friends were leaving Nate’s shop, Nate’s girlfriend said how it would be great if a person could actually listen to the tattoos. From that moment, Nate relentlessly set out to make this idea a realization and created a concept for himself by using his girlfriend’s voice saying “I love you,” as well as their 4-month old baby’s laugh, and posted it to Facebook.

The video then started attracting people from all around the world, and thus the Skin Motion app was born, launching in June 2017.

The goal of this company is to expand this innovation on a global scale by partnering with tattoo artists and tattoo shops all over the world, as well as monetize their efforts through their subscription service.


How One Grieving Woman Remembers Her Late Mother Forever

One example of this amazing technology at work is through Caitlin Hallock, 28, who memorialized her late mother via a soundwave tattoo in order to hear her every day.

Caitlin lost her mother suddenly in December 2015 from a heart attack. Devastated, she got several tattoos done to remember her, but in late 2018 when her husband and tattoo artist, Shane, told Caitlin about augmented reality soundwave tattoos from his researching of new designs, she knew this was the one she had to get.

After scouring every piece of audio that she could find for one that was suitable, she stumbled across a video of her 24th birthday party, where she could hear her mom in the background say, “Happy birthday, girl,” and knew this was the one.

Shane registered to become a certified artist, and helped Caitlin in tattooing her soundwave tattoo. Caitlin now listens to her mom’s voice at least twice a day, and often shares it with her 4 children, who will never forget the sound of their grandmother’s voice.

Many more similar stories can be found on Skin Motion‘s site.

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The Future of Augmented Reality in Tattoos

The tattoo community has received the idea positively since its launch, with praise surrounding integrating art with today’s technology to create more memorable tattoos. It is a creative way to keep something that you cherish with you at all times, keeping true that tattoos are works of art that hold value and meaning.

Whether it’s through our mobile devices, our glasses, or even our skin, augmented reality technology is innovating how we interact with the world. Before long, augmented reality will seamlessly blend in as a way of life and forever changing what it means to experience “the real world.”


Patricia Chang
the authorPatricia Chang
Patricia Chang is a South Florida-based freelance Digital Project Manager and XR Strategist. She is also a U.S. Navy veteran born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has also resided in the states of California, Hawaii, and New York. With her B.S. in Computer Information Systems and Master’s in Project Management, Patricia has a decade of experience working with businesses at strategic and operational levels from technology start-ups to major corporations. When not doing project-based initiatives, you can find Patricia obsessing over anything VR/AR related, including attending a VR development academy, in hopes to fine tune her future digital consultancy business.