Research: Intelligent Tattoos for Real-Time Health Monitoring?

Is it really possible to monitor health with the help of tattoos?

A few decades ago, tattoos were still mostly for sailors and prisoners. But nowadays it has become normal to wear tattoos on the body. More and more men and women have different tattoos. How about if tattoos not only looked great, but also had medical benefits? Researchers have now developed a tattoo color that can indicate human health.

Scientists from internationally recognized Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) collaborated on current research to develop a new tattoo ink that can be used to monitor health. The experts published a press release on the results of their research.

Tattoos can indicate dehydration or rising blood sugar

The newly developed tattoo ink can change color when, for example, a person becomes dehydrated or when blood sugar rises. The ink used in the tattoos is considered by the experts to be biosensitive. Further research is now facing the task of combining the tattoos with medical monitoring devices.

Advantages of new tattoo ink

The currently available portable monitoring devices for medical use have the major problem that they do not integrate well into the body, say the experts. The monitoring devices also unfortunately only have a relatively short battery life and require wireless connectivity. The new biosensitive tattoo does not need any of the above requirements, the researchers add.

So far, the ink has faded or diffused into the surrounding tissue

The research team is still working on a concept to further stabilize the new ink. So far, the designs have faded over time or the ink has diffused into the surrounding tissue. All of these problems must be resolved before the new ink can be used for medical needs, the researchers explain.

Tattoo changes color as glucose levels increase

The ink changes color based on the chemistry of the interstitial fluid in the body, the authors explain. The ink developed so far is able to change color from green to brown when the glucose level increases. The green ink of the tattoo is clearly visible under a blue light and the green becomes more intense as the sodium concentration in the body increases. This effect occurs, for example, with dehydration.

If people don't like tattoos, the ink can also be invisible in normal light

It is also possible that people who use the ink to monitor their health do not want to have obvious tattoos on their bodies. With them, the tattoos are practically invisible. The invisible ink used can then only be seen under certain light colors, which can also be produced by your smartphone, for example, the authors explain. The researchers have already developed an app that is able to analyze the images of a sensor and then deliver diagnostic results. The scientists emphasize that the newly developed tattoos could be used in the future to monitor chronic or short-term diseases. (as)

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