Course Blog

Bioluminescent epidermal electronic system to detect blood sugar levels


At the beginning, our group want to use bioluminescent to create a wearable material cloth as a new fashion which can against the animal-fur. In the initial stage, we want to find a way to let people can interact with luminous Vibrio harveyi. And one of the design studios from the Netherlands have given us inspiration called Glowing Nature(1), which shows the beauty of nature between man, biology and technology. And we thought that people can actually connect with bioluminescent in some ways.


After a brief presentation from last week, our group want to discover more design opportunity combine with human activity and bioluminescent. So when people want to detect their Blood sugar levels they have to frequently go for finger prick tests which is not convenient. For now, there are already have the new technology device, called Eversense(2), is slightly larger than a pill and is implanted under the skin in a five-minute procedure. It then continuously monitors blood sugar levels from the fluid that bathes cells just below the skin and transmits the data to a smartphone.

However, it still has to implanted under the skin and have potential as complications can include seizures, foot disease and even amputations, which reduce mobility and quality of life.

Another method is called Tattoo-Based Noninvasive Glucose Monitoring[3], but still, it has the problem on the issue as it could not stick stable on the skin and will affect the PH value.

As Elif Gediz Kocaoglan(our group member) that now we can measure blood glucose levels from sweat. So there is a new design opportunity for us to use bioluminescent algae help people to detect blood sugar level.

Design Opportunity

What I found that is there is a new wearable technology can get through these problems–“epidermal electronic system” (EES)(4), it’s basically an electronic circuit mounted on your skin, designed to stretch, flex, and twist — and to take input from the movements of your body. So what can an EES really do for us? The short answer is: a lot. In the paper describing their new technology, published in this week’s issue of Science, the researchers illustrated the adaptability of their concept by demonstrating functionality in a wide array of electronic components, including biometric sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and even conductive coils and solar cells for power.

With this, we can easily put Vibrio harveyi on epidermal electronic system while measuring the blood glucose levels, you can put this signal on your skin which you could see it clear if the blood glucose level is too high it will lighten up to waring you.



[1] Glowing Nature.

[2] Tiny sensor placed under the skin to replace finger prick tests for diabetes: Smartphone app will alert patients if their blood sugar level drops or is too high.

[3] Amay J. Bandodkar , Wenzhao Jia , Ceren Yardımcı , Xuan Wang , Julian Ramirez , and Joseph Wang. 2015. Tattoo-Based Noninvasive Glucose Monitoring: A Proof-of-Concept Study. Anal. Chem.87 (1):394–398.

[4] Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin.