Color-Changing Tattoo Ink Indicates When Your Health Is At Risk

DermalAbyss is a project that explores the possibilities of human skin as an interface and interactive display. MIT Media Lab researcher Katia Vega has been delving into this innovative field for seven years now, having created technological beauty products such as conductive makeup and smart fake eyelashes.

This time, Vega's quirky invention involves tattoo ink, which reacts to the changes in the chemistry of human bodies and could be a groundbreaking solution to monitoring our health.


(Photo: Dermal Abyss)

(Photo: Xin LIU, Katia Vega)

With the help of Harvard Medical School, Vega and her team have replaced regular tattoo ink with biosensors, whose colors change in response to variations in the tissue fluid.

This new ink measures your PH, sodium and glucose levels and reflects the variations by changing its color. For diabetes patients, who need to pierce their skin constantly throughout the day to check their glucose levels, this technology could be life-changing:

"With d-abyss, we can replace the painful procedure with a tattoo, of which the color from pink to purple based on the glucose levels. Thus, the user could monitor the color changes and the need of insulin."

So far, they've tested out the ink on ex vivo pig skin model, to successful results. In the following examples, the tattoo displays a blue-ish hue when the PH levels are low, and bright pink shade when they are high.

Glucose tattoos change from blue to brown, and the ones that detect sodium glow when exposed to a UV light.

(Photo: Viirj Kan, Katia Vega)

(Photo: Viirj Kan, Katia Vega)

Check out the following video to learn more about DermalAbyss:

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