You may associate cosmetics giant L’Oréal with attractive women swishing their shiny locks and uttering that famous four-word axiom, but the company has ambitions far greater than making your lipstick kiss-proof. Alongside lauding and encouraging women in science, the company has a Technology Incubator dedicated to innovations in tech. And it seems it’s being put to good use, as they’ve just unveiled a wearable device designed to monitor Sun exposure.
Called “My UV Patch,” the gadget was revealed recently at the CES tradeshow in Las Vegas, a ground for companies to flaunt their latest breakthroughs and advances in a range of tech, from 3D printing to health and robotics. The stretchable, flexible electronic is just a few centimeters in size and about half the thickness of a strand of hair. It’s sticky and transparent, designed to be applied to an area of the user’s skin and worn continuously for a few days.
The temporary adhesive features squares loaded with light-sensitive dyes that change color when hit with UV rays. In order to measure these changes, all the consumer needs to do is download an app, to be made for both Android and iOS users, and scan the patch with their smartphone or tablet. After considering baseline skin tone, the technology allows users to track how much Sun they’ve been exposed to over time.
The idea is simple: to help inform and educate people about Sun protection. Not only can solar radiation damage the skin and promote its aging, it’s also a known carcinogen and thus a major risk factor for most skin cancers. And this isn’t limited to Sun-worshippers: Even short bouts of excessive UV exposure, especially if they result in burning, can damage DNA and raise the risk.
While the company hopes the technology will help raise awareness about the importance of shielding our delicate skin from harsh UV rays, Global Vice President of the incubator Guive Ballooch stressed to the BBC that it’s not designed to be a sunscreen prompt for consumers.
“The issue is not when to reapply, the issue is how much exposure do I have,” he told BBC News.
Set to be launched this summer, the wearable will be made available in 16 countries, completely free, although at this stage it's unclear how you will be able to get your hands on one.