Artist creates tattoos you can hear

LOS ANGELES - Tattoo artist Nate Siggard wants to make body art talk.

He's the inventor of Soundwave Tattoos, a new concept that lets tattoo artists ink audio waveforms onto people's skin, letting them listen to a favourite tune or a loved one's voice any time, via a still-in-the-works smartphone app.

The process starts with customers recording or uploading to the app the piece of memorable audio. It could be a baby giggling, a bird chirping, a deceased relative speaking or even just a few bars of a significant piece of music. The app then generates a real waveform image that can be taken to a qualified tattoo artist to be permanently inked on the body.

After the tattoo is done, a photograph of it is uploaded to the app, to be matched to the audio file so that when the recipient points the app at his or her tattoo, the audio plays.

"We're using image recognition inside the app to notice when it's looking at the tattoo and it plays the sound of the tattoo back on top of itself," Siggard said.

Siggard hopes to establish a network of trained tattoo artists all over the world to make Soundwave Tattoos available to everyone. He says many of the people who have contacted him to express their interest in a Soundwave Tattoo want to memorialise someone close to them who has died. He thinks the tattoos could form part of an important grieving process and says tattoo artists will be trained to listen compassionately to their customers' stories.

Siggard's friend Josh Gallner recently lost his father to cancer. He requested a Soundwave Tattoo of his dad offering advice to other people affected by the disease.

"You absolutely have to believe and once you have that belief, that desire, you can conquer anything," Josh's father says on his tattoo.

Both Siggard and his girlfriend Juliana Damiano have Soundwave Tattoos themselves. Siggard's plays audio of Juliana saying, "I love you," along with a clip of the couple's four-month-old daughter Lyra Wyld babbling. Damiano's is her dog Baci barking.

Siggard says the app will be ready for release in June 2017. The suggested price for a simple Soundwave Tattoo, without customisation, is US$150 (S$210), according to his website.

Skin Motion, Siggard's company, has already approved tattoo artists to offer Soundwave Tattoos across the US and also in Europe, Latin America, Canada and Australia.

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