Researchers aim beyond wearables with project combining art, medicine
Harvard and MIT researchers have developed smart tattoo ink capable of monitoring health by changing color to tell an athlete if she is dehydrated or a diabetic if his blood sugar rises.
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.
“We were thinking: New technologies, what is the next generation after wearables?” said Ali Yetisen, who is a Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital. “And so we came up with the idea that we could incorporate biosensors in the skin.”
A drawback of current wearable monitoring devices is that they don’t seamlessly integrate with the body, Yetisen said. Short battery life is a concern and so is the need for wireless connectivity, neither of which is an issue with the simple, color-based interface of biosensitive tattoo ink.
“We wanted to go beyond what is available through wearables today,” Yetisen said.
Learn more: Feeling woozy? Time to check the tattoo
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