Tattoos as medical condition monitors | Summary and Q&A

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September 27, 2017
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Harvard University
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Tattoos as medical condition monitors

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Summary

The video presents the concept of "The Dermal Abyss," which explores the potential for tattoos to incorporate technology and make the skin interactive. It introduces the idea of replacing traditional tattoo inks with biosensors that can detect and respond to changes in the body's internal fluids. The sensors change colors or fluoresce under UV light, allowing for monitoring of metabolic processes within the body. The Dermal Abyss opens up possibilities for medical diagnostics, quantified self-tracking, and data encoding within the body. The video also mentions preliminary evaluations that were conducted on pigskin to assess the visibility and functionality of the biosensors. Furthermore, it highlights the potential collaboration between biotech companies, skin professionals, and tattooists to develop this concept further.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the dermal abyss and how does it involve tattoos?

The dermal abyss is a concept that aims to integrate technology into tattoos, making the skin interactive. It replaces traditional tattoo inks with biosensors that can detect changes in the body's internal fluids. These biosensors change colors or fluoresce under UV light, allowing for an interactive and visually interesting tattoo that reflects inner metabolic processes.

Q: How do the biosensors in the dermal abyss work?

The biosensors in the dermal abyss are able to detect and respond to variations in the body's intestinal fluid. For example, there are biosensors that change color between purple and pink based on the pH of the fluid. Another biosensor changes color between blue and brown in response to changes in glucose levels. Additionally, there are biosensors that fluoresce and emit a higher intensity of light under UV light when detecting sodium or a different pH value.

Q: What are the potential applications of the dermal abyss?

The dermal abyss has various potential applications. One of the main ones is in the field of medical diagnostics. With these interactive tattoos, it would be possible to continuously monitor the body's metabolic processes, facilitating early detection of potential health issues. Additionally, the dermal abyss could be useful for individuals engaged in self-tracking and quantified self-movement as it allows for real-time monitoring of various bodily parameters. Furthermore, the concept of encoding data within tattoos opens up possibilities for storing personal information or even communication through the skin.

Q: Has the dermal abyss been tested on human skin?

The video mentions that preliminary evaluations of the dermal abyss were conducted on an ex-vivo pigskin model. Injections were made in the skin to assess the visibility and functionality of the biosensors. However, it does not specifically state whether the dermal abyss has been tested on actual human skin. Further research is likely necessary before it can be applied to humans.

Q: How could the fashion and wearable industries be involved in the development of the dermal abyss?

Similar to how the wearable industry incorporates fashion practices into their products, the development of the dermal abyss could also involve collaborations with the fashion industry. By collaborating with designers, the concept of interactive tattoos can be combined with aesthetic considerations, making them visually appealing and wearable. This would create new possibilities for combining technology and fashion in innovative ways.

Q: What professionals could be involved in the development of the dermal abyss concept?

The video suggests that collaboration between various professionals is crucial for the development of the dermal abyss concept. Biotech companies, skin professionals, such as dermatologists or researchers specialized in skin biology, prosthesis experts, and even tattooists could all contribute their expertise. This collaboration would allow for a more holistic approach that considers both the technical aspects and the practical considerations of integrating interactive tattoos into the human body.

Q: What are some potential challenges in the development of the dermal abyss?

One potential challenge in the development of the dermal abyss is ensuring the safety and biocompatibility of the biosensors. It is essential to thoroughly evaluate any potential risks or adverse reactions that may arise from having these biosensors embedded in the skin. Additionally, maintaining the functionality and visibility of the biosensors over time, despite natural processes like skin aging or the formation of scars, would also be important considerations.

Q: Could the dermal abyss concept be adapted for other purposes besides health monitoring?

While health monitoring is a significant potential application, the dermal abyss concept could also be adapted for other purposes. For example, it could be used for aesthetic expression, creating visually stunning tattoos that change colors or patterns dynamically. Additionally, the concept of encoding data within the body could have applications in fields like security, where sensitive information can be stored discreetly and accessed only under specific circumstances.

Q: Are there any ethical considerations associated with the dermal abyss concept?

The video does not address ethical considerations directly. However, the concept of embedding biosensors into the human body does raise ethical questions about privacy and consent. The ability to monitor, store, and transmit data through these interactive tattoos would require careful consideration of privacy rights and ensuring that individuals have control over their personal information.

Q: What is the vision for the future of the dermal abyss?

The video envisions a future where the dermal abyss concept becomes a reality, thanks to collaborations between various professionals and industries. It suggests that this integration of technology and the human body could lead to a new form of symbiosis, where human devices become seamless parts of our everyday lives. This vision includes the potential for advancements in healthcare, self-monitoring, and even the fashion industry, where interactive tattoos could become a new form of artistic expression.

Takeaways

The dermal abyss concept explores the possibilities of making tattoos interactive by replacing traditional ink with biosensors that respond to changes in the body's internal fluids. This innovative approach opens up opportunities for continuous monitoring, medical diagnostics, and encoding data within the body. Collaborations between biotech companies, skin professionals, and tattooists could further develop this concept. There are potential challenges such as ensuring safety and biocompatibility, but the dermal abyss has the potential to integrate technology and fashion while allowing for artistic expression and healthcare advancements. Ethical considerations, particularly regarding privacy and consent, need to be addressed in the development of this concept.

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