by Joe White
July 23, 2011
That's right, a team of intelligent people over at Northeastern University have developed a way to measure blood glucose levels using an iPhone and a fluorescent nanosensor tattoo. Impressed? Me too. Currently, if you suffer from diabetes the usual means of testing blood glucose levels involves drops of blood, paper strips and a reading device: Not only is this expensive (each strip can only be used once), but the continual wounds can become infected, and the experience is generally an uncomfortable one. However, this new method - which, we should stress, is highly experimental - could allow diabetics to check their blood glucose levels by simply scanning their skin with an iPhone handset. As you can see in the below image, the iPhone is outfitted with a series of LEDs and a filter lens, and patients must first be injected with nanoparticles which contain "fluorescent dye, specialized sensor molecules ... and a charge-neutralizing molecule." These molecules attach to glucose, and the glow of the tattoo alters depending on the patent's blood glucose level. According to Engadget, the team had originally used a "large box-like" device to read tattoos, until someone came up with the idea of using an iPhone handset, instead. Future plans for the technology include sodium-reading and oxygen-reading apps, though as of this moment there's no indication that the set-up will be submitted to the FDA. We'll keep you posted.