These Color-Changing Tattoos Tell You Important Stuff About Your Health

06/15/2017 10:25 am ET Updated Jun 21, 2017
Vimeo/Fluid Interfaces

Tattoo lovers and health fanatics are uniting over new technology from the brilliant minds of researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School. By adjusting the standard tattoo ink formula, the team is converting body art into a personal health monitoring system that could revolutionize the way we connect with our bodies.

In the project, which is named DermalAbyss, the researchers replace traditional tattoo ink with biosensors in which colors change in response to variations in interstitial fluid (the fluid that surrounds all bodily tissue). The pH sensor changes between purple and pink, the glucose sensor changes between blue and brown, and the sodium and second pH sensor fluoresce at a higher intensity under UV light. All of these different inks combine to make a singular tattoo that allows you to understand your metabolic processes from the outside in.

They tested the various inks on patches of pig skin, as you can see in the video above. Way more testing (likely using more animals) is necessary for DermalAbyss to better predict the impact the inks could have on human skin before it's ever implemented. As with all tattoos, adverse reactions and allergies are possible. Not to mention, they need to figure out how to make sure the indicators remain as accurate as possible as the process is replicated, which will take some time.

However, the potential use cases for this technology are numerous, from monitoring medical diagnostics to quantifying the self (like how we use activity trackers now) to even data encoding in the body. Just think — diabetics would no longer have to prick their finger to test for their glucose levels.

Unfortunately, for those of us who are are ready to sign up for our very own "smart" tattoo, DermalAbyss is only in the proof-of-concept stage, and the researchers don't have any information regarding when it might become a real product. So for now, watch their explainer video in awe and doodle your potential tattoo design on the corner of your notebook. Hopefully, your drawings will come in handy some day in the future.

This post originally appeared on Swirled.

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