Researchers from Harvard and MIT developed smart tattoo ink that can monitor different health metrics such as dehydration and blood sugar. The tattoos wouldn't be a transmitter for a wearable or smartphone app to receive either, but they would be able to show you various health information by changing colour. Several injections in the skin were done in order to understand the visibility and functionality of the biosensors.
The "Dermal Abyss" inks change color in accordance with the chemical make-up of the body's interstitial fluid.
Currently, during daily activities and alimentary habits, diabetics need to monitor their glucose levels by piercing the skin, 3 to 10 times per day.
Current monitoring devices-a smartwatch or fitness tracker, for instance-don't seamlessly integrate with the body (at least, not like inserting dyes into the dermis layer of the skin does). Ali Yetisen, a postdoctoral fellow Harvard Medical School said: "We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables?"
Harvard Medical School postdoctoral fellow Nan Jiang-who also works with Brigham and Women's hospital-said: "The objective of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts".
Smart Tattoo Ink Changes Color as it Monitors Vitals
It is being developed by Harvard scientists, which created a biosensitive ink.
This is a research project, and there are now no plans to develop Dermal Abyss as a product or to pursue clinical trials. This ink simply changes color from green to brown when glucose levels are higher than normal. To reflect dehydration the team has also developed a green ink that grows more intense as sodium concentration rises. "We wanted to go beyond what is available through wearables today". Scientists are still working to stabilize the ink so designs don't fade or diffuse into surrounding tissue-features long sought after by traditional tattoo artists.
"This work could be expanded to monitor athletes and their health levels, people who have chronic conditions that need to be monitored like diabetes, and it could even be used on astronauts to monitor their health in space", Nan Jiang, the study co-author was reported as stating.
"The goal of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts", says Jiang.
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