Color-Changing Tattoos for Blood Glucose Monitoring

Constant pricking may soon be a thing of the past for diabetics.

Researchers from Harvard and MIT have joined forces to create Dermal Abyss, a proof-of-concept that turns the skin into an interactive display. While it is yet to be furthered for clinical trials, the project has gained traction and has expanded the possibilities for the future of glucose monitoring.

“Currently… diabetics need to monitor their glucose levels by piercing the skin, 3 to 10 times per day. With Dermal Abyss, we imagine the future where the painful procedure is replaced with a tattoo,” states the researchers behind the Dermal Abyss website.

How It Works

The science behind the experiment replaces traditional tattoo inks with biosensors. These would then react to the alterations in interstitial fluid with color changes. The tattoos also serve as sensors for levels of pH, glucose, and sodium.

Current Limitations

In their present state, these color-changing tattoos are far from being ready for mass usage. Color range and intensity could be adjusted for more apparent readings. Additional research may also be needed to ensure the longevity and consistency of the tattoos.

Rise of Tattoo Innovations

This is not the first time tattoos became the center of biotechnology experiments. Last year, MIT introduced DuoSkin. Users can sync this high-tech wearable to their phones, letting them start and stop Spotify playlists, increase or decrease volume or brightness, and even control laptop mouses.

Couple Harmony, another tattoo innovation, is a device that can act as a modified mood ring. Using tiny heating elements beneath thermochromic materials, the tattoos can change colors depending on its user’s current emotions.