Researchers from the Technical University of Munich have united new technology with one of the oldest art forms, all to improve human wellbeing. They have developed an experimental dermal implant pigment that turns colour when it detects changes in metabolic substances. The pigment can be incorporated traditional tattoo ink — which means a permanent monitor of a long-term condition could someday be worn comfortably (and stylishly!) by a patient, and deliver readings in real-time.
The researchers identified and adapted three chemical sensors that change colour in response to body changes into tattoo inks that they injected into pigskin. The first sensor was a simple pH indicator that changed from yellow to blue as the test “body”’s pH rose. The second was a blood glucose detector that went from yellow to dark green. The third involved albumin (a protein in the blood which, when low, might point out kidney trouble), which also went from yellow to green as levels fell.
From MedicalXPress, via BoingBoing:
“The authors claim that such sensor tattoos could allow permanent monitoring of patients using a simple, low-cost technique. With the development of suitable colorimetric sensors, the technique could also extend to recording electrolyte and pathogen concentrations or the level of dehydration of a patient. Further studies will explore whether tattoo artwork can be applied in a diagnostic setting.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing to someday have a custom tat that can subtly tell you to adjust your insulin, or slug back some electrolytes? Technology is swiftly taking advice to “listen to your body” to a whole new level. Plus, it represents a return of sorts of the art of tattooing to one of its original purposes: healing!