Diabetes technology as body art (glucose responsive tattoo ink)

Smart tattoo ink changes color to monitor dehydration and blood sugar.

As reported by Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer writing for the Harvard Gazette, researchers at Harvard are aiming beyond wearable medical technology with a project that combines art with medicine.

You may have heard of these before, we reported on the concept yonks ago, in June 2011 no less, but there’s been progress. Harvard and MIT researchers have developed smart tattoo ink capable of monitoring health by changing colour to tell an athlete if they are dehydrated, or a diabetic if their blood sugar is rising. The work, conducted by two postdoctoral fellows at Harvard Medical School and colleagues led by Katia Vega at MIT’s Media Lab, paired biosensitive inks developed at Harvard with traditional tattoo artistry as a way to overcome some of the limitations of current biomedical monitoring devices.

Ali Yetisen, a Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital says of the research, “We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables?” said. “And so we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin. We wanted to go beyond what is available through wearables today. ”

The project, nick-named ‘Dermal Abyss’, was conducted as a proof of concept, and that further refinements — stabilizing ink so designs don’t fade or diffuse into surrounding tissue — would be needed for a medical product.

To see a video about the product CLICK HERE.

News items and features like this appear in the Desang Diabetes Magazine, our free-to-receive digital journal. We cover diabetes news, diabetes management equipment (diabetes ‘kit’ such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring equipment) and news about food suitable for a diabetic diet including a regular Making Carbs Count column. Go to the top of this page to sign up – we just need your email address.

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