Smart Tattoo Ink Changes Color as it Monitors Vitals

Researchers have developed biosensitive inks that can monitor for dehydration and blood sugar levels.

Smart Ink Tattoo / Image: Harvard Medical School
Smart Ink Tattoo / Image: Harvard Medical School

Wearable monitoring devices have come a long way, but they aren’t yet seamlessly integrated with the body. A short battery life paired with the need for wireless connectivity can be an inconvenience. Fortunately, a September 28th Harvard Gazette article contained information that brings wearables to the next level. Researchers from Harvard and MIT have combined smart ink technology with traditional tattoo artistry to create body art capable of monitoring vitals.

The Dermal Abyss tattoo inks alter color based on the chemistry of the body’s interstitial fluid. As glucose concentrate increases, the ink changes from green to brown, while a separate green ink becomes more intense under a blue light when sodium concentration increases, which is an indication of dehydration. The team has also developed an app that analyzes a picture of a sensor and translates it into quantifiable diagnostic results. The project was proved the concept can work, but further development needs to be done to stabilize the ink preventing it from fading or diffusing into the body. A video with more information can be seen here.

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