June 13


Color-Changing Tattoo Ink That Monitors Your Health in Real Time

By Gabriela

June 13, 2017

Scientists have created a new revolutionary tattoo ink that changes its color according to certain changes in the body. For instance, changes in sodium or blood sugar levels.

Instead of the usual tattoo ink, researchers use a liquid with biosensors to make the human skin an “interactive display.” The one-of-a-kind proof-of-concept is surely an interesting one to watch.

But, the idea is much more than just interesting. It could become a groundbreaking new method to monitor human health.

The name of the entire project is Dermal Abyss. The team consists of researchers from Harvard Medical School and MIT who are sharing and combining their knowledge on the topic of biotechnology and Fluid Interfaces.

So far, they came up with 3 different color-changing inks which respond to changes in the tissue fluid. The solution surrounds the cells and takes about 16% of the total body weight.

3 Different Tattoo Inks and Their Meaning

The most exciting ink is the one that changes its color when there’s a change in the person’s blood sugar levels. As the glucose increases, the ink color changes from blue to brown.

The revolutionary invention could ease the everyday life of those with diabetes who have to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly via pin-prick blood tests.

Another ink is the pink one that changes its color to purple according to variations in the pH levels in the body. The last ink reveals changes in the sodium levels. People can notice its vivid green color under UV light when the levels of salt increase.

color changing tattoos for people with diabetes

Researchers explain more about these unique tattoo inks on Diabetes. They say the project’s purpose is to detect changes in the inner metabolic state through a tattoo.

For those who have diabetes or any other health condition that requires regular dietary monitoring, the whole concept would be extremely helpful. Plus, it’s exciting even for those with no health problems, especially data nerds.

Xin Liu is one of the MIT researchers included in the project. He says a lot of patients are contacting them saying they want to try out the tattoo ink.

But, since the project is still in the proof-of-concept stage, it’s not known when it’ll become a real product. So, people can’t sign up for one of these revolutionary ink tattoos, at least for now.

The Product Needs More Research before It Hits the Market

Scientists used patches of pig skin to test the tattoo inks. They changed the fluids’ levels to be detected using injections.

People can see the testing on pig skin patches in the video below. Also, there’s a digital rendering of what would those unique tattoo inks look like on a human arm.

The inks should pass a number of stages of rigorous tests before being approved for humans. Of course, it should go through animal tests first, and then eventually in humans. Researchers must check for possible adverse reactions such as allergies.

Also, they say it needs more research before they could say the tattoo indicators are accurate. For now, they can’t say that, so it’ll take quite a bit of time before the product hits the market. Still, Liu reports that technology surely opens up possibilities.

The project will be presented at Diabetes in September 2017.

Sources: Science AlertCBC News


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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