T-Mobile Impossible Tattoo hero

‘Impossible Tattoo’ inked remotely by robot arm over 5G network

Image credit: Anomaly | T-Mobile

T-Mobile has demonstrated the potential of its 5G network with an advertising campaign involving the world’s first remote tattoo permanently etched into the skin of a human volunteer.

T-Mobile’s Netherlands 'arm' has released an advertising campaign which features a film documenting the world’s first-ever remote tattoo, powered by T-Mobile’s 5G technology.

The tattoo was executed by a robot arm controlled by a tattoo artist in another location, who placed the tattoo onto the body of Dutch actress and TV personality Stijn Fransenm in real time via 5G.

Afshin Moeini, creative director at advertising agency Anomaly, said, “We wanted to show what 5G is really capable of. To be able to fully trust a tattoo artist remotely tattooing your body: it’s that needle-to-skin tension that makes this so powerful and we knew that if we’d pull it off, we would create something incredible that has never been done before.”

Touting the new benefits of the 5G network, the short film is intended to demonstrate that with virtually no delay or latency - courtesy of 5G's speed - an action requiring millimetre accuracy can be performed across the network, regardless of the distance between participants.

Anomaly worked with production partner The Mill, whose team of technologists spent several months researching and developing the cutting-edge technology in order to execute the tattoo. The Mill team built the custom robot tattoo arm required to execute the groundbreaking feat.

Dutch tattoo artist Wes - who was ultimately the person responsible for delivering the tattoo - was also involved in the research and development of the remote tattooing technology, ensuring key factors were taken into account. The final tattoo was applied to Fransenm's left forearm only after many tests had been conducted on an array of vegetables, such as squashes, and prosthetic skin samples.

Wes worked on tattooing a false arm in one location, while Fransenm sat in a different building where the robot arm - controlled by, and precisely replicating, Wes's actions - drove the needle and ink into her skin.

The Mill's Noel Drew, who built the tattooing robot arm, said, “There were three lanes of initial development. Firstly, we needed to work out how to track the tattoo artist's movements and detect when he was making contact with the surface of a fake practice arm and transmit this data over the 5G network. Secondly, we had to develop a robotic platform that could receive this data in real-time and control the robot's movements in relation to the human arm. Thirdly, we needed to develop a deep understanding of the fine details of tattooing.”

Richard Marijs, T-Mobile technology strategist, said, “5G will offer us unprecedented new possibilities in the field of connectivity and mobile internet. We are very proud to have made it possible for tattoo creation to take place from different locations, thanks to the low latency of connectivity in a live environment via our 5G network in the heart of (busy) Amsterdam. And this is just the beginning."

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