Imagine you are allergic to something in the air, but you don’t know about it until it’s too late. However the good news is that it appears that we’re getting close to wearable sensors that can pick up on things like that, thanks to the efforts of researchers at MIT who have developed “living ink” that reacts to the environment.

Basically this “ink” consists of hydrogel that is filled with bacteria that is genetically programmed to light up when it comes into contact with certain types of chemicals. In turn this allows it to be worn on the skin, like a patch, and when it lights up you know that there might be certain chemicals in the air that maybe you can try to avoid before it gets too much.

According to one of the researchers Hyunwoo Yuk, “This is very future work, but we expect to be able to print living computational platforms that could be wearable.” Another researcher Xinyue Liu adds, “We can use bacterial cells like workers in a 3-D factory. They can be engineered to produce drugs within a 3-D scaffold, and applications should not be confined to epidermal devices. As long as the fabrication method and approach are viable, applications such as implants and ingestibles should be possible.”

However when exactly this “living ink” will become a reality and have real world application still remains to be seen.

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