Color-Changing Tattoos Could Change How We Monitor Our Health

Researchers at Harvard and MIT have developed biosensing ink that switches colors to notify you of changes in your blood sugar and sodium levels.

Technology is advancing rapidly, and body art is becoming more socially acceptable, so why not combine the two for a good cause?

Researchers at MIT and Harvard are doing just that by exploring biosensing tattoos to help diabetics keep track of their blood sugar.

Scientists have developed a special tattoo ink called DermalAbyss with chemicals that can sense blood sugar levels, pH, and sodium, CBS News reports.

For example, when blood sugar increases, the glucose-sensing ink will change from blue to brown. When salt levels go up, the sodium-detecting ink will shift to a more vibrant green under UV light. Additionally, when alkaline levels change, a pH sensor will switch from purple to pink.

This approach is much lower maintenance for someone with diabetes who either pricks their finger several times a day or wears expensive and cumbersome blood glucose monitoring equipment.

The innovative technology, however, is still in its early research stage and has only been tested on pig skin samples. There are some unknown variables associated with testing it on living skin, such as allergies and accuracy, according to MIT Media Lab researcher Xin Liu.

"It will take a long time for anything practical to go to market, but [the technology] evokes imaginations and opens up possibilities," Liu said.

If this ingenious idea comes to fruition, it would be a huge step toward making monitoring health data easier, safer, less expensive, and potentially more accurate. 

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