Img source: MIT

Color-changing tattoo for real time health monitoring

In life, you would have stopped many a times and looked at leisure activities and thought, “if only this would have helped my health, I’d be so much fitter.” Well, the brains at MIT have come together have pulled off something that we could only marvel at.

Scientists have developed a new color-changing tattoo ink that responds to changes in the body, such as blood sugar and sodium levels. Using an ink that has suspended bisensors, scientists want to turn the surface of the human skin into an “interactive display”. Technology like this could become a revolutionary new way to monitor health. And that is the way it is heading towards.

So far, the team of researchers have developed three different inks that shift color in response to changes in interstitial fluid — the stuff that sloshes around between our cells, comprising some 16 percent of the human body weight.

Of the three sensor inks, the most intriguing is the one that can measure glucose levels. The sensor changes its color from blue to brown as blood sugar rises.

Having a glucose-sensing tattoo could make life easier to people with Diabetes, who have to rely on pin-prick blood tests throughout the day to monitor their glucose.

The team has also created an ink that shifts from pink to purple in relation to pH levels, and a third sensor that can detect sodium, shining a vibrant green hue under UV light in the presence of rising salt levels.

For someone who has a health condition that requires careful dietary monitoring, or even if you’re just a data nerd and like the idea of tracking bodily changes with a cool-looking tattoo, it’s a great concept. A concept that could be used for various ends.

So far, this technique is only in the proof-of-concept stage, and there’s no indication of when it might become a real product. The researchers have tested the inks on patches of pig skin, using injections to change the levels of the fluids to be detected.

Before this amazing tech can be proven in humans, it will need to go through several stages of rigorous tests, probably in animals first and then eventually in people. Things to look out for are adverse reactions to the ink and possible allergies.