Holotats copy

One of my favorite ways of expressing myself as a kid was putting temporary tattoos all over my arms and face. One day I could have a glittery dolphin on my arm, the next day I could add a giraffe to my cheek. The possibilities were endless.

But temporary tattoos for kids are getting an upgrade thanks to modern technology. Holotats, from Balti Virtual, are temporary tattoos that come to life through a smartphone app.

Holotats are applied just like standard temporary tattoos—peel of the plastic, apply to the skin and use a damp cloth to transfer. But now kids can take out any mobile device and watch their tattoo take shape on-screen, an introduction to augmented reality for kids.

The app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, accesses the device’s camera. Once it recognizes the tattoo, a figure of the tattoo jumps on screen with sound effects and movement. Kids can even take a screenshot or a video of the tattoo to capture the moment.

I decided to have a little extra fun and put the African Penguin and Flutter the Butterfly right next to each other on my wrist. The app recognized both and I had two little pals hanging out with me. At first the animal just kind of drops in next to the tattoo and then starts making sounds (the penguin really had a lot to say to me). As I moved my phone around, still aimed at my arm, I could see different angles of the creatures as they looked in all different directions.

The augmented reality temporary tattoos are available in three different packs, with each pack including six tattoos. The “Magical Friends” pack has stylized cartoon animals, including Flutter the Butterfly, Horace the Boar, and Bubbles the Fish. The “Wild Kingdom” pack has realistic-looking animals that teach about endangered species. It includes the African penguin, the golden frog, the polar bear, and the red-eyed tree frog. The “Sea Creatures” pack also has realistic animals, like the dolphin, the sea turtle, and the great white shark.

The tattoos themselves are already very fun and detailed, but the graphics in the app are even more vibrant. These tattoos could be a fun replacement for face-painting, which would make kids’ selfie games very strong.