Getting a tattoo can mark an important life moment, quite literally. But one thing that always seems awkward is having to make small talk with the tattoo artist as a painful needle scratches a design into your skin.
With the latest advancements in robotics, human tattoo artists could be replaced with a giant robot arm that won't judge you for getting a portrait on your back of Benedict Cumberbatch eating a taco.
In the video "World's First Tattoo by Industrial Robot" on Vimeo, French designers Pierre Emm and Johan da Silveira, along with Autodesk engineer David Thomasson, explain how the project came to be.
"Our research is really focused on this more intimate relationship that people are likely to have with machines in the not-too-distant future," Thomasson says. "This project is really pushing that to the limit."
Previously, Emm and da Silveira created a Makerbot 3D printer with a tattoo gun they call Tatoue. But this latest invention is much more sophisticated, thanks in part to the help of an industrial robot.
The process involves taking a 3D scan of the area where the tattoo will be placed and then making a design mockup via software. After the robot is given the proper code, it proceeds to give the human subject a tattoo -- no small talk required.
While the precision of the robot's work is impressive, it's still rather eerie to see a human's leg taped down -- so he doesn't move unexpectedly -- as a robot inserts a tattoo needle into his skin. If this is the future of tattooing, here's hoping the robot will be modified to stop if we decide midway through that we made a horrible decision.