Tattoo Biosensors

︎ Creator: Christina Wang        
︎ Supervisor: Peter Yeadon

For at least 8,000 years, tattoos have been of constant significance to our individuality and our identity. And they remain so today!

At the same time, wearable monitoring devices are largely considered to be clinical, impersonal, and inconvenient, especially for diabetics who frequently have to prick their fingers to test their daily glucose levels.

Christina Wang sees these two observations as a promising opportunity for the 88 million US adults who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes (i.e., have pre-diabetes). Wang has conceived of a personalized color-changing tattoo that constantly monitors the glucose levels of pre-diabetic people. This real-time feedback guides them to a healthier lifestyle that might help them address their condition.

Unlike electronic monitors, the tattoo biosensor does not require recharging, is lightweight and flexible (body movement does not affect connectivity). The tattoos work by interacting with interstitial fluid in the skin to detect glucose. The tattoo starts off as a blue color, but shifts towards brown with higher glucose levels, due to a chemical reaction.

These dynamic color changes can be customized into cool tattoo designs that can be obvious, or discreet, as with any  tattoo. Additionally, the tattoo can be placed anywhere, since glucose concentration in our skin is relatively uniform throughout, making it easy to choose the location and visibility of the tattoo.

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