Having diabetes is a huge hassle. You have to continuously monitor it using devices and special strips. The procedures are often expensive, time-consuming and invasive. But thanks to researchers at MIT and Harvard, people with diabetes can now easily track their blood sugar levels with no additional costs. The alternative method utilizes a special type of ink that responds to changes in the body; such as blood sugar and sodium levels. The biosensing tattoo is a new innovation that will surely change the lives of many.
The DermalAbyss project explores the possibility of using the body surface itself as an interactive display.
MIT and Harvard researchers collaborated and are currently working on the DermalAbyss Project. The project focuses on creating color-changing tattoos that could, in the future, track your pH, glucose, and sodium levels.
Instead of using typical tattoo ink, DermalAbyss replaces it with biosensors, which responds to changes in the skin’s interstitial fluid. The concept is still on the development stage and has not yet been made available to the public. Using the liquid with biosensors, researchers want to change the surface of the human skin into an “interactive display”. This technology could be revolutionary, especially in the field of diabetes.
The project combines efforts from Fluid Interfaces and biotechnology. So far, the team was successful in developing three different inks that shift color according to the skin’s interstitial fluid that surrounds tissue cells. Interstitial fluid or tissue fluid makes up about 16% of the human body weight. Researchers are utilizing this to track pH levels, as well as sodium and glucose concentrations.
Among the already developed tattoo inks, the most fascinating is the one that is capable of measuring glucose levels.
When a person’s sugar level rises, the biosensing ink changes color from blue to brown. Having such a tattoo could be helpful for those with diabetes, since it eliminates the need to prick their fingers everyday with monitoring devices.
Among the teams creation is another ink that shifts from pink to purple, according to pH levels. The third biosensing tattoo ink detects rising salt (sodium) levels by producing a green hue when exposed to UV light. According to the team’s website,
“The Dermal Abyss creates a direct access to the compartments in the body and reflects inner metabolic processes in a shape of a tattoo.”
“It could be used for applications in continuously monitoring such as medical diagnostics, quantified self, and data encoding in the body.”
Those suffering from type 2 diabetes have to monitor their health constantly. Depending on whether they are at moderate or high risk of type 2 diabetes, a person has to follow a strict diet. The tattoo will become very efficient in such cases since it will help them keep track of their sugar levels.
“People with diabetes email us and say, I want to try it out.” – According to Xin Liu from MIT.
If you are someone who wants to try out this amazing concept, then we are sorry to inform you that the product is still in the development stage. Unfortunately, the biosensing tattoos are in the proof-of-concept stage and researchers have yet to determine when or how it will become a product that will be readily available to the public.
“We envision new participation between the biotech companies and skin professionals…in order to embrace the idea of human device symbiosis.”
Currently, the inks have been tested on pig skins, which turned out to be successful. Below, you can find a video released by Fluid Interfaces that shows a digital rendering of the process.
According to an MIT researcher,
“It will take a long time for anything practical to go to market, but it evokes imaginations and opens up possibilities.”
Source: MIT.edu, CBS news.