The Impossible Tattoo” is the first tattoo made remotely thanks to 5G technology. 

With the aim of promoting T-Mobile’s high-speed connection and with the collaboration of the Anomaly Amsterdam agency, the London tattoo artist Wes Thomas was appointed to create a real tattoo with a remotely controlled robot. 

For about six weeks, during the lockdown period, artist Wes Thomas together with robotics expert Noel Drew and his team at The Mill Experience carried out studies and research to create this kind of experiment, the first one around the world. Experts collaborated on the creation of a robotic arm and an ad hoc needle and then printed them in 3D. After that they placed the electric motors on the robot by connecting it to a smartphone equipped with T-Mobile 5G technology. 

“This project, when it was proposed to me – said the technologist Noel Drew – was super exciting. We have got real-time human hand tracking, we have got precise control over a robot, we have got tattooing, and we have got 5G — the amount of data alone we need to transfer from one end to the other”. 

Before arriving at the real test, numerous trials were carried out both on skin samples used for prostheses, and on some vegetables such as pumpkins. After verifying the safety and correct functioning of the robotic arm and the needle, the experiment was carried out on the Dutch actress Stijn Fransen who agreed to have her arm tattooed. 

While Wes Thomas drew on the arm of a mannequin, the intelligent robotic arm tattooed the same drawing in real time on the arm of the actress who was physically in another place at that time. The robot was thus able to make the first tattoo, with a very simple design, remotely with millimetre precision. 

The three-minute mini documentary video published to witness the success of the first experiment of this kind, showed that the ultra-fast connection – in this case of T-Mobile – allowed the tattoo artist to control the robot remotely without any setbacks and without any loss of signal or latency been recorded. 

What previously seemed impossible – said The Mill – became a reality when a robot arm, which was controlled by a tattoo artist in another location, placed a tattoo onto human skin in real-time via 5G. With the new benefits of the network, there is virtually no delay, which means an action with millimetre accuracy can be performed no matter the distance. ‘The Impossible Tattoo’ convincingly shows what speed, greater reliability and low latency mean in the real world”.