Tattoos Can Now Start Monitoring Your Medical Conditions: Harvard and MIT Researchers Innovate at the Intersection of Art & Medicine

Once reserved for rebels and out­liers, tat­toos have gone main­stream in the Unit­ed States. Accord­ing to recent sur­veys, 21% of all Amer­i­cans now have at least one tat­too. And, among the 18–29 demo­graph­ic, the num­ber ris­es to 40%. If that num­ber sounds high, just wait until tat­toos go from being aes­thet­ic state­ments to bio­med­ical devices.

At Har­vard and MIT, researchers have devel­oped “smart tat­too ink” that can mon­i­tor changes in bio­log­i­cal and health con­di­tions, mea­sur­ing, for exam­ple, when the blood sug­ar of a dia­bet­ic ris­es too high, or the hydra­tion of an ath­lete falls too low. Pair­ing biosen­si­tive inks with tra­di­tion­al tat­too designs, these smart tat­toos could con­ceiv­ably pro­vide real-time feed­back on a range of med­ical con­di­tions. And also raise a num­ber of eth­i­cal ques­tions: what hap­pens when your health infor­ma­tion gets essen­tial­ly worn on your sleeve, avail­able for all to see?

To learn more about smart tat­toos, watch the Har­vard video above, and read the cor­re­spond­ing arti­cle in the Har­vard Gazette.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Meet Amer­i­ca & Britain’s First Female Tat­too Artists: Maud Wag­n­er (1877–1961) & Jessie Knight (1904–1994)

Browse a Gallery of Kurt Von­negut Tat­toos, and See Why He’s the Big Goril­la of Lit­er­ary Tat­toos

A Daz­zling Gallery of Clock­work Orange Tat­toos

Free Online Biol­o­gy Cours­es 

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