Smart Tattoo Ink Changes Color as it Monitors Vitals

Smart Tattoo Ink Changes Color as it Monitors Vitals

Smart Tattoo Ink Changes Color as it Monitors Vitals

The tattoos use biosensitive inks developed at Harvard that change colour according to the body's interstitial fluid, which can act as a signifier of blood make-up. A green ink becoming increasingly more intense if you're dehydrated, while another green ink can turn brown to let people with diabetes know when their glucose levels increase.

Nan Jiang, co-researcher and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School study, said: "The goal of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts".

The Harvard Gazette, a news website, quoted Ali Yetisen, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, as saying that after pondering "what is the next generation after wearables, we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin". They believe the designs could be a less-invasive way to monitor things like hydration in athletes (by checking sodium levels) or blood glucose in diabetics.

With further developments and removal of some bugs, researchers could bring these tattoos into the market, offering a better health monitoring solution over conventional wearables, which do not integrate this well with the body and suffer from wireless connectivity and battery-related glitches.

"We wanted to go beyond what is available through wearables today", he said.

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The team tested the ink on segments of pigskin, with the tattoos inked on and chemical solutions mimicking high pH or glucose levels injected into the skin. If, for example, they want to us the technology as a medical product, they would need to stabilize these inks so they are more resistant to fading and diffusion.

The tattoos, made with the help of such inks, can be invisible and can only be readable under particular kinds of light.

But the researchers did note that the ink could potentially be useful in a wide variety of applications - from monitoring chronic conditions, to creating temporary designs for shorter-duration monitoring. The team has also developed an app that analyzes a picture of a sensor and translates it into quantifiable diagnostic results.

"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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