Home Internet of Tattoos

Internet of Tattoos

I know what you’re thinking. “Man, my tattoo is cooler than an above-ground swimming pool full of Gypsy Jokers.” Then, “Yeesh…I feel faint and weirdly thirsty.” Too bad you couldn’t combine your tattoo and your jabby-pokey machine. (Oh, did I mention you’re diabetic? Because you are.)

Well, good news everyone! Soon you may be able to combine that dinner plate-sized tattoo of Bert Convy you’re so proud of and your glucose monitor.

As Aaron Saenz reports in Singularity Hub, two groups are working toward that end.

“Two different research teams, led by Michael Strano at MIT and Heather Clark at Draper Labs, have developed two different types of nanotech ‘ink’ which would be injected in the skin and change fluorescence depending on your blood sugar.”

Although each approach is different, they both use nanotechnology. Strano’s features tubules riding in hydrogel under the skin. The gel swells depending on glucose levels and that causes the tubules to fluoresce in the near-infrared.

Clark’s team is using polymer beads containing chemicals that fluoresce when glucose is pulled into it.

A hand-held or wearable device would be needed in either case to translate the level of glucose. Strano’s tattoo would last six months or so. Clark’s lasts only a week but can be adapted for other elements a person may want to test for, so that platform could have a wider reach more immediately. Consistent monitoring of blood glucose levels goes a long-way to mitigating the damage that diabetes can do to the body. But the current suite of wearable monitors still require daily adjustments and to do those right, you still need to break the skin. These systems, if they come to market, might well make that monitoring a no-brainer.

So, if you’re the kind of person who feels unicorn one week and flaming devil head the next, the Draper Lab tattoo might be for you. If you just know you’re not going to regret toting Ed Roth around on your quadriceps for half a year, the Strano tat might be for you.

Here’s a gallery of non-nano but relentless diabetes tattoos.

Rat Fink tattoo photo courtesy of Jack at Fate Tattoo

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