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Biosensor tattoos are the health-tracker of the future

Biosensor tattoos are the health-tracker of the future

Ink on skin, tattoos have long been perceived as a medium of contrariness and self-expression. From artistic souls to rebel youths to cancer survivors, tattoos have served hundreds of purpose through different cultures and generations. And health may soon be one of them.

MIT researchers Katia Vega, Xin Liu, Viirj Kan, and Nick Barry and Harvard Medical School researchers Ali Yetisen and Nan Jiang have been working together to develop a proof-of-concept called Dermal Abyss. In this research project, they are exchanging traditional tattoo ink with biosensor fluids to create a tattoo that monitors your health in real time.

So far, the team has come up with four biosensors fluids that react to three of our interstitial fluids. The pH sensor tracks your pH levels and turns from purple to pink. The glucose sensor checks your glucose levels, altering from from blue to brown. Lastly, the sodium and a second pH sensor shines a vibrant green hue under UV light depending on the presence of rising salt levels.

At the moment, the team has no plans to develop Dermal Abyss as a product or to pursue clinical trials. They are still focused on testing the biosensor fluids on pig’s skin, trying for accuracy in color.

Should they go ahead and develop Dermal Abyss into a commercial product though, there’s one sure demographic to benefit from it. With this innovation, diabetics might just have an easier, more convenient method of keeping track of their blood sugar levels. No longer would they have to go through painful pinprick tests everyday, instead they could just glance at beautiful pieces of art on the skin.

It could also be useful for tracking dehydration.

Excited and already planning your first Dermal Abyss tattoo? Here are some designs that would work well with the biosensor tattoo interface.

Geometric patterns

Trendy and minimalist, these designs come alive with a splash of color.


These flower-like illustrations have a more playful and authentic vibe to them. They’re currently the design that the team is experimenting with right now, as well.

Color spectrum

Getting a bar of color spectrum on your skin, maybe one bar per biosensor fluid, is straight to the point and has a touch of irony for the sardonic souls out there.


Photos courtesy of


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