New Tattoos Change Color Based on Your Health

Getting tatted doesn’t have to be reckless — now, it could save your life

The tattoo ink changes color based on internal cues

This could be monumental news for people with diabetes and other serious diseases — now there’s a tattoo ink called Dermal Abyss that could alert you to a medical emergency before symptoms do. Scientists developed a color-changing technology in the ink that reacts to medical realities beneath the surface. Without pricking a finger or taking a blood sample, the ink could allow people to understand what’s going on inside of their bodies 24/7, easing concern and curiosity alike.

The technology was developed at Harvard and MIT; the ink is enhanced with bio-sensors that change color based on the pH level and the prevalence of sodium, glucose, and hydrogen ions in our bodies. A change in pH tints colors from purple to pink, increased glucose levels shade from green to brown, and the sodium indicator’s green becomes more intense under ultraviolet light. Since the different ink sensors use different colors, they could theoretically monitor all of these aspects of health at once.

If this technology contiunues to be developed, diabetics might no longer need to prick their fingers daily. Those wary of dehydration may no longer need to rely on obscure signs (which often come too late); instead, they could monitor their hydration levels with ease.

The tattoo requires zero electricity and zero maintenance — it’s one and done. You’re tatted for life. Aging and other skin changes don’t affect its superhuman ability.

The implications could stretch even further for the average citizen. Athletes, for instance, might find their body’s stats useful during training. Scientists developed an accompanying app with the implication that wearers of the tattoo could download it to their smartphone and track their health over time. This data could reveal important information, and help wearers stay aware of health issues they might not have even known they had.

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Though the project merely demonstrates proof of the concept — the test tattoo was performed ex vivo on a piece of pig skin, and there are currently no plans to pursue clinical trials in humans — we can’t help but get excited. The future is here, folks — we can (literally) wear our health on our sleeve. This tattoo is surely one of the biggest things that’s happened in health in 2017.