BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers are looking to create a biosensitive, smart tattoo, one that could help keep track and monitor the health. For example, it could continuously follow the blood sugar levels or notice if the person is dehydrated. It would also help warn against this by changing color.
The Dermal Abyss or the Smart Tattoo Project
This new health monitoring “system” is being developed as part of the Dermal Abyss project. The tattoos themselves would reportedly look pretty much normal or how you’d want them. Instead, the ink itself would be the special element.
It is being developed by Harvard scientists, which created a biosensitive ink. This contains fluorescent and colorimetric biosensors, which can detect concentrated amounts of glucose and sodium. It can also detect hydrogen ions in the skin’s interstitial fluid, which is a solution that surrounds the tissue cells.
As the ink detects decreases or increases in the glucose or sodium changes, it can then change its color. According to the study team, they have already developed two color versions.
One of them is a green color that can turn brown as it detects increases in glucose levels. The other color increases in intensity as it is exposed to blue light as it notes rises in the sodium concentration levels. These proof of concepts variants of the smart tattoo were tested by the team on pig skin.
Availability and Privacy
Scientists are hoping to make this tattoo option available to the public after they remove some bugs and bring further developments to their product. Such an option would reportedly be most useful to people that need to have their health constantly monitored, for example, athletes or astronauts.
“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 team is also looking to add a degree of privacy by also working with invisible ink. This way, the smart tattoo would only become visible under a specific light from the smartphone, as an example.
Although the proof of concept was deemed interesting, there is still much work left before this can become available on the market.
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