From smart tattoos to sub-dermal implants, body hacking is on the rise and can provide interesting health insights. They can’t give a complete view of life activity, but if you are at risk for certain diseases or illnesses, they can provide some great preventative information before you may be aware of symptoms.
These monitoring tools are not for everyone just yet as many people feel uncomfortable having their health data on display to others may feel the technology is too invasive. Nonetheless, it is amazing to see all the things that are possible connecting technology to the body.
Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting options under development or hitting the market as we speak for a glimpse into the body sensing future.
Biosensitive Tattoo Ink
These Harvard and MIT researchers are developing the ‘Dermal Abyss’ smart tattoos that change colors based on your pH levels and more. Diabetic patients, for example, can get information on glucose levels based on the color of their tattoo and skip the constant finger prick tests. Beyond medical patients, athletes and astronauts could use this technology to find out if they are properly hydrated and nourished. These smart tattoos work with chemical reactions so they don’t require any power source and you even get to choose your style.
Blood Monitoring Implants
Scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have created the world’s smallest medical implant for blood monitoring. These tiny implants live under the skin and are powered by an external patch that communicates information to your smartphone. The remote charging system saves the pain and infection risk of running wires into the skin. Each sensor is coated with an enzyme that reacts with blood-borne chemicals to generate a detectable signal. These sensors can help doctors determine precise dosage for aggressive treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Users can also receive preventative alerts like a text message leading up to a heart attack or other cardiac event based on the proteins in their bloodstream.
Graphene Tattoo Wearables
University of Texas researchers have developed a graphene tattoo for monitoring health that is lighter than a feather and can wrinkle and move with the skin. These smart monitors only last about a day, but it is an elegant solution for patients that need close monitoring without the bulky equipment. In addition to taking vital signs like heart rate and conductivity, these super slim decals can also display information or communicate with a smartphone making it easy for caregivers to get the vital information they need.
Temporary Tattoo Circuits
Technically these tattoos live on top of the skin, but MIT Media Lab and Microsoft Research’s Duoskin is a less permanent solution than the other options listed. These temporary tattoos do more than contain important personal and medical information, you can interact right with circuitry so they can double as a nurse call system or communication device that is simultaneously less bulky and harder to misplace than a big red button. Duoskin also comes in some trendy shiny designs that look like they’re ready for the next music festival.
These little guys will take a little longer to develop, but the potential for nanobots is huge. Once injected into the bloodstream, nanobots can not only seek out diagnostic information and biopsy without surgery, but they can also be trained to attack tumors or repair cells. For things like cancer, the ability to apply treatment precisely can greatly increase success and decrease painful side effects that come from having to apply chemotherapy or radiation to the whole body or large areas.
Overall, as technology is getting smaller and smaller, treatment and monitoring may be able to happen more easily inside the human body. At the moment there are still hurdles to overcome including how to effectively power these devices, but the future looks good tiny implanted tech.