Researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School are exploring the possibility of a biosensor tattoo that can make a person's skin interactive.

Your Health, News | 4 days ago

Interactive Tattoos: The Future of Health Monitoring

Researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School are exploring the possibility of a biosensor tattoo that can make a person's skin interactive.
For many people suffering from chronic diseases, days require time-consuming health monitoring which can be expensive and needed multiple times each day. For diabetics, piercing the skin 3 to 10 times a day to monitor glucose levels is an unappealing but unavoidable routine. Researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School are exploring an innovative approach to alter the way people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar permanently — a biosensor tattoo.

The research is part of the DermalAbyss project. The tattoo ink is a new approach to health monitoring in which biosensor ink changes color when fluid levels rise or decrease. The new ink is capable of sensing blood sugar levels, pH, and sodium. The ink is still a “proof of concept,” which means that it’s in a pilot stage to prove that it works, but is not ready to be used in a clinical trial or sold as a product.

How it Works

The ink reacts and changes color based on chemical and fluid levels in the body, allowing the user to monitor color changes and the need for medicine, such as insulin. For example, a person with diabetes could monitor color changes from pink to purple based on the glucose levels in their body. For an individual monitoring sodium levels, the ink will become more vibrant. For individuals monitoring these fluids, the tattoo becomes interactive to alert them to changes.

The Future

The biosensor ink is not ready for the healthcare consumer market, but it represents the possibility of simplified health monitoring. For individuals battling chronic disease, having to use monitoring equipment can be difficult during activities like running or swimming. Even during day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget to check blood sugar levels. The option to look down at a tattoo to check blood sugar is a simplified approach to health monitoring, which could lead to improved tracking and management of a specific disease state like diabetes. There are still a lot of unknowns, like allergies and durability, but people with these diseases need to know what’s going on in their bodies and this research is a step toward simplifying the burden.

Diabetes Care and Prevention

The future of biosensor tattoos is emerging and unknown, but new prevention and management programs are available to individuals. To learn more about the latest programs, treatments and research, visit Carolinas HealthCare System.