Living in a land surrounded by stunning beaches and an outdoorsy culture, as Australians we're well aware of both how lucky and unlucky we are. Lucky because our climate is so agreeable; but unlucky because our rate of skin cancer is the highest in the world (yeah, not great). With this in mind, the brains at L'Oréal's Technology Incubator in the States have developed a UV sensor patch with La Roche-Posay that can actively measure an individual's daily UV exposure. The tiny patch - which is about the size of a 50 cent piece - is worn on your skin for five days, allowing the user to sleep, shower, swim, exercise and even wear sunscreen over the patch.
Using photosensitive dyes, which change colour when exposed to UV radiation, the patch works in conjunction with an app, which tells users what their daily exposure to UV is. While we're certainly no expert in the field of wearable tech, we chat to the inventor of My UV Patch, Guive Balooch to find out more.
Firstly, how does the sun patch work?
It is like a second skin. You apply it anywhere on your body, you can apply sunscreen and it will stay on your skin for 3-5 days without having to remove it. In the patch you have a heart. The heart has 16 squares that are all changing colours and different amounts of sun so you can get constant information from a single patch for up to 5 days.
You put on the patch, open the app, scan the heart, and it will tell you how much UV exposure you had throughout the day as well as at the moment of the scan. It will give you tips for your lifestyle and also information about UV protection.
Why did you develop the UV sun patch?
Last year, thanks to an international study involving, 20,000people in 23 different countries we found out that 8 out of 10 people do not take the proper precautions when spending time in the sun. So we know that education is key and wanted to develop a tool which would help to educate consumers on the amount of UV exposure their skin is receiving and encourage a true behavioural change when it comes to adopting sun safe habits.
I'm assuming the UV exposure will vary a lot from person to person - do factors like age, skin/hair/eye colour and ethnicity play the biggest part or do environmental factors factor in?
Everyone in a particular geography receives UV exposure in similar doses if they go out in the sun unprotected, however, it is the risk from that exposure that varies from person to person.
People with fair skin, light coloured eyes and a large number of moles generally have a higher risk of damage from UV exposure compared to those with very dark skin, hair and eyes. This is because the natural pigment, or melanin, in the skin is able to buffer direct UV radiation a little more than fair skin with less pigment. However no skin, no matter how dark, is safe from melanoma.
Age plays a role because there is direct link between melanoma and the number of sunburns and sun exposure someone has experienced in their lifetime. For every five sunburns the risk of melanoma doubles. The app tailors its recommendations based on skin tone and some other factors, such as age. We ask consumers to complete some initial questions and the algorithms inside the app allow the recommendations to be customised for each person.
Have you tested this in Australia? I'd expect that Australians have a higher exposure compared to Northern Hemisphere people?
The patch has been trialled in Australia and we know that due to the high levels of UV we are exposed to here, the information and recommendations it can provide is going to be very helpful for Australians.
My UV Patch will be available for free from selected dermatologists, and with the purchase of La Roche-Posay sunscreen products from Australian pharmacies from October, as well as online at laroche-posay.com.au/saveyourskin