New Color-Changing Tattoo Ink

Tattoos to embrace technology in order to make the skin interactive.


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Recently, MIT scientists have come up with a new colour-changing tattoo ink that tracks changes in the body. The team has developed three different tattoo inks that shift color in response to changes in the interstitial fluid.

The tattoo ink come under the project called tattoo artistry.

Scientists actually discovered four biosensors, reacting to three pieces of biochemical information in body fluid. The pH sensor changes between purple and pink, the Glucose sensor changes between blue and brown and the sodium and a second pH sensor fluoresce at a higher intensity under UV light.

New Color-Changing Tattoo Ink
Credit: Xin LIU, Katia Vega

In real, it creates a direct access to the body compartments and reflects inner metabolic processes in a shape of a tattoo.

Scientists noted, “The Dermal Abyss creates a direct access to the compartments in the body and reflects inner metabolic processes in a shape of a tattoo. It could be used for applications in continuously monitoring such as medical diagnostics, quantified self, and data encoding in the body.”

But as scientists noted, “It is only in the proof-of-concept stage, and there’s no indication of when it might become a real product.”

For testing, scientists have tested the inks on patches of pig skin. They just used injections to change the levels of the fluids to be detected. But for human trials, they need to through several stages of rigorous tests, probably in animals first and then eventually in people.

New Color-Changing Tattoo Ink
Credit: Xin LIU, Katia Vega

Scientists noted, “Currently, during daily activities and alimentary habits, diabetics need to monitor their glucose levels by piercing the skin, 3 to 10 times per day. With Dermal Abyss, we imagine the future where the painful procedure is replaced 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 for insulin.”