T-Mobile reveals the power of 5G with the world’s first remote tattoo

'The Impossible Tattoo’ offers a glimpse at the possibilities enabled by the 5G network, with the first ever remote tattoo placed successfully in real-time onto human skin.
Work September 9, 2020

For quite some time we’ve been hearing about the next generation of wireless technology, 5G. But while it is finally rolling out across the globe, many telecom providers still struggle with translating the technological improvements to relevant consumer benefits. Sure, it’s faster. But low latency? Greater reliability? Enhanced capacity? It all sounds great, but for what exactly? T-Mobile had a clear task in mind.

We teamed up with creative agency Anomaly Amsterdam to bring 5G closer to home and underpin T-Mobile’s reputation as The Netherland’s most trusted network. In order to do this we developed ‘The Impossible Tattoo’: the world’s first ever remote tattoo, powered by T-Mobile’s 5G technology.

What previously seemed impossible, 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 millimeter 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.

The Mill’s Experience team, led by Noel Drew spent several months researching and developing the cutting edge technology. Our team both built the custom robot tattoo arm needed for this groundbreaking feat, and also created the film that captured it. Dutch tattoo artist Wes, was deeply involved in the research and development of the remote tattooing technology, ensuring a multitude of factors were taken into account when replicating the intricate art of tattooing. After countless tests on an army of heroic vegetables and prosthetic skin samples, it was Dutch actress and TV personality Stijn Fransen who successfully received the world’s first 5G tattoo.

Noel Drew comments, “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 robots movements in relation to the human arm. Thirdly we needed to develop a deep understanding of the fine details of tattooing.”

Footage of the process covers everything, from building and testing the robot arm to the tattooing, which will be used in online communication and national broadcast for T-Mobile.

Creative Directors at Anomaly Afshin Moeini & Christian Poppius comment, “Instead of just talking about what the future could bring us, 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.”

T-Mobile Technology Strategist Richard Marijs adds. “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.”


Stay tuned for the ‘The Impossible Tattoo’ Case Study. You can get in touch with us about a new project here.



Client: T-Mobile Netherlands

Manager Brand & Communications: Margaret Kreuger

Sr. Brand & Communications Manager: Daniel Straeter

Agency: Anomaly Amsterdam

Creatives: Afshin Moeini (CD), Christian Poppius (CD), Maria Patti, Dieuwertje Matheeuwsen, Blaž Verhnjak

Business Director: Ralph Balk

Strategist: Maurits Denekamp

Agency Lead Producer: Loïs van Ruijven

Production Company: The Mill

Director: Alfie Johson

Technical Director: Noel Drew

Developers: Seph Li, Matthew Hill, Eleanor Edwards

Executive Producer: Jarrad Vladich, Josh Davies

Producer: Elliot Tagg, Sinead Catney

Editor: Joe Walton

D.O.P: Tibor Dingelstad

Sound post-production: Wave Studios

Sound Engineer: Randall Macdonald

Producer: Michael Hoogdorp