Today’s diabetics need to use traditional finger stick glucometer’s, tomorrows will just need a tattoo. A recent study from the department of Nanoengineering from the University of California have developed a wearable, reliable, and temporary glucose detecting tattoo. It is easy to apply, comparable to modern water based temporary tattoos and has a lifespan of about one day so far. They’re incredibly cheap and this study is simply paving the way for a more constant, long term model for the mass market.
It functions by first sending a small 0.2mA/cm2 current through the user’s skin. This current induces a reverse ionotophoresis reaction, drawing ions (specifically sodium) towards the electrodes. This ion transfer also brings glucose molecules with it, allowing the device to then take a measurement of blood glucose levels. While the process is longer than other common glucose detection methods, the goal of the glucometer is to be comfortable, easy to use, and noninvasive. Some participants in the study mentioned no discomfort while others only felt a small tingling sensation at the sight of the tattoo.
Even though this study does not represent a final product (more of just a "proof of concept" experiment), it is the first step towards creating and distributing this technology to the public. Further research is needed to increase the lifespan of each tattoo and still maintain its accuracy and sub $1 price point. The tattoo is also being designed to implement Bluetooth technology to send timely reports directly to a patient’s doctor and smartphone or for use in detecting changing levels in other common chemical markers and aiding in drug administration.
-Dan Staiculescu (Group C)