Diabetics may have a better — that is, painless — way to monitor their blood glucose levels in the future: a smart tattoo that changes colors based on glucose levels. Such a technology is made possible via biosensor inks, which react to certain things related to the body and present that information visually using color. The inks don’t have to be limited to glucose-based applications, though, also being presented with sodium-based and pH-based sensitivities.
The latest smart tattoo creation is called DermalAbyss, and it comes from MIT Media Lab’s researchers Katia Vega, according to Co.Design. The tattoo, which was also made in conjunction with the Harvard Medical School, utilizes the aforementioned biosensor inks that will change colors based on pH, sodium, and glucose levels.
When looking at the tattoo, it appears no different than any other tattoo, being inked in the same way and in whatever pattern the recipient wants. And while they can be used as elements of curiosity, they are most interesting in association with medical applications. As mentioned, a diabetic with a glucose-sensitive tattoo can gauge their blood glucose levels based on the color of the tattoo rather than pricking their fingertip multiple times a day.
The researchers suggest that the pH-based tattoo could be used to keep an eye on one’s general health, perhaps highlighting a potential problem in the future. And the sodium indicator, which is determined under a UV light, could be used by athletes and others at risk of dehydration. This is the latest example of smart tattoo concepts and prototypes that in some way bring data or technology to someone’s skin; past smart tattoo creations include temporary health tattoos and stickers that unlock smartphones.