Smart Tattoos: What You Need To Know
Smart Tattoos for Improving Health
Researchers have developed “smart tattoos”, combining art with medicine. Harvard and MIT researchers have developed tattoo ink or “smart tattoo ink” capable of changing color based on certain health conditions. For example, this new smart tattoo ink will change color when someone is dehydrated or when a diabetic’s blood sugar rises.
This new work is paired with biosensitive inks developed at Harvard with traditional tattoo art. Its aim is to overcome some limitations from current biomedical monitoring devices.
Ali Yetisen, a Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital, stated:
“We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables? And so we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin.”
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Wearable Monitoring Devices vs Smart Tattoos
Current wearable monitoring devices simply do not integrate well with the body. One concern is a short battery life thus the need for wireless connectivity.
With smart tattoos, there are almost zero issues with simple, color-based biosensitive tattoo ink.
The dermal abyss tattoo was conducted as a proof of concept for smart tattoos.
“The Dermal Abyss tattoo inks change color according to the chemistry of the body’s interstitial fluid, which can be used as a surrogate for constituents of the blood. One ink changes from green to brown as glucose concentration increases. The team has also developed a green ink, viewable under blue light, that grows more intense as sodium concentration rises, an indication of dehydration. Researchers tattooed the inks onto segments of pig skin and noted how they changed color or intensity in response to different biomarkers.” – (Source)
Benefits of Smart Tattoos
As refinements are made and bugs are worked out, the benefits of smart tattoos become quite broad. Smart tattoos can be used for chronic conditions or temporary designs for shorter-duration monitoring.
A possibility is an invisible ink reacting to a particular kind of light.
Yetisen has already developed an app that can “analyze a picture of a sensor and provide quantitative diagnostic results.”
Smart Tattoos for Diabetics
Currently, diabetics monitor their blood sugar pricking their skin for a drop of blood several times a day. Biosensor ink replaces this process by responding to changes in glucose, sodium, and any chemical imbalances. For example, the new biosensor ink changes from blue to brown as blood sugar rises. This enables diabetics to avoid or cut down in blood sugar intake.
According to MIT’s website:
“In the same way that the wearables industry is integrating fashion practices into its development, we envisage participation between the biotech industries and skincare professionals, such as prosthesis experts and tattooists, in order to embrace the idea of human device symbiosis”
Where To Get Smart Tattoos
As our technology evolves, so will new markets combining art with medicine.
Speak to one of our tattoo artists whose style you already like and see what they can do for you!