How much sun is too much? A group of Northwestern scientists aim to let you know with the world’s smallest wearable device, which can help prevent skin cancer.
Dubbed, “My Skin Track UV,” the device made its debut on Apple and La Roche-Posay’s websites last month, but the team released a paper in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday that gives more details on its design and testing process. The group claims it’s the tiniest wearable device on the market and thankfully, it’s now available for customers to buy.
According to a Northwestern University press release, the device measures light exposure across various wavelengths from ultra violet (UV), to visible, and in some cases, infrared solar areas. The aim of the device is to alert customers about their UVA exposure and allow them to protect their skin from wrinkles, spots, and burns.
To put this device to the test, researchers solar-powered the device and attached them to human study participants. During testing, it recorded different types of light exposure when the participants were outside. It tracked therapeutic UV light in clinical phototherapy for skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, blue light therapy for those suffering from jaundice, and white light exposure for mental health ailments, including seasonal affective disorder.
Due to its versatile monitoring activity, the device can foster precision phototherapy for the health conditions above, monitor UVA and UVB exposure for melanoma, and warn users when they’re spending too much time in the sun.
While this tiny device might seem great in the lab, it’s easy to use, according to John Rogers, the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University.
“From the standpoint of the user, it couldn’t be easier to use – it’s always on yet never needs to be recharged,” Rogers said in the press release. “It weighs as much as a raindrop, has a diameter smaller than that of an M&M and the thickness of a credit card. You can mount it on your hat or glue it to your sunglasses or watch.”
Here’s how it works: First, the device captures and stores a minute electrical current from sunlight. A communication chip embedded in the device’s sensor interprets the voltage and passes the result digitally to the user’s smartphone. The device then communicates with their smartphone to gather global UV index information and they can see how much time they’ve spent in the sun or shade. If they’ve maxed out their sun exposure, their smartphone will send them an alert.
Before you embark on your Winter tropical escape, you might want to consider buying the “My Skin Track UV,” which retails for $59.95 at Apple.com.
More on Geek.com: