Ultra violet (UV) radiation is present in sunlight and also produced by specialized lights. Suntan, freckling and sunburn are all familiar effects of over-exposure, along with higher risk of skin cancer. We would be severely damaged by ultraviolet radiation if most of it were not filtered out by the Earth’s atmosphere.
However, its not all bad news as the UV spectrum also has beneficial effects on human health. Ultraviolet is also responsible for the formation of bone-strengthening vitamin D in most land vertebrates, including humans. But there is a lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic.
Essential reading: Compare UV Monitors with our interactive tool
Smart UV wearables are few and far between. While there are a number of devices, their number pales when compared to the wide range of fitness and activity trackers on the market. Depending on the brand, they either clip on to your clothes, come in the form of wearable bands, or have an adhesive that sticks directly to your skin.
The French cosmetics company became the first beauty company to enter the stretchable electronics field, with its smart UV monitor. Measuring approximately one square inch in area and 50 micrometers thick, the patch works similar to a removable tattoo or a nicotine patch, sticking to the skin for five days. Once applied, the wearable is showerproof, has no batteries, and there is no initial cost or ongoing cost.
The wearable contains photosensitive dyes that factor in the baseline skin tone and change colors when exposed to UV rays. Consumers take a photo of the patch and upload it via NFC to the accompanying smartphone app. The software than analyzes the varying photosensitive dye squares to determine the amount of UV exposure.
The more than a century old company announced earlier this year the first battery-free wearable electronic UV sensor. UV Sense is tiny enough to wear on a fingernail, pair of sunglasses, running shoes, etc. – essentially any item that is exposed to the sun. The little wearable changes colour to indicate UV levels and can connect to your phone via NFC to show exposure trends and tell you when its time to apply sun-screen.
UV Sense is less than two millimeters thick and just nine millimetres wide. Out of the box it can be used for up to two weeks, but you get additional adhesives to extend its life. You can also clip it on to things.
The wearable is expected to be launched this summer.
This is an attachable sensor that tells you the exact amount of UV light you can be exposed to before increasing your chances of skin damage. And when we say exact, we’re not kidding. Its validated to be as precise as laboratory equipment and is even sensitive enough to measure UV rays from light bulbs.
Using a powerful magnet, you are meant to wear Shade on a t-shirt, jacket or bag. The wearable will then dish out notifications as you get closer to your UV limit. Wearing sunscreen? No sweat. The sensor will take it into account, too.
An Indiegogo backed project back in 2014, this was one of the first smart UV monitors on the market. The water-resistant gizmo is a non-bluetooth device, which means it works independent of phones. Instead, LED’s flash to alert you as you reach your daily limit of safer UV exposure.
You set your own personal sensitivity level to match your specific skin type and color, and the rest of the work is done as you wear it. The inexpensive bracelet helps you optimize vitamin D from the sun while preventing overexposure, and has been approved by the Vitamin D Council for that purpose.
Oh, and you can forget about charging. The battery is encased in the SunFriend and is good for up to 3 years.
Originally a Kickstarter backer project, CliMate is a tiny, cloud-shaped tracker that measures humidity, ultraviolet light and temperature of your immediate environment. It can be kept on a stand inside a room or worn on a lanyard outside your clothing or bag. Based on your pre-entered information and the readings it receives, it will send you alerts that tell you when to put on sunscreen if you are outdoors.
A cartoon plant will show your status in the mobile app. When you’re protected, the plant flourishes. When you’re exposed, it withers away. You’ll also get alerts based on the settings you choose.
Now a few years old, Netatmo June adds a fashion touch to sun exposure monitoring. Prepped with personalized information about your skin tone, this piece of jewelry measures ultra-violet exposure throughout the day and communicates with your smartphone so you get real-time advice about how to keep your skin safe.
The bracelet is decorated with a piece crafted to resemble a large diamond and is available in a number of colours. June is rechargeable, and will run about a month on a single charge.
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