Researchers at Northwestern Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering have created the world’s smallest wearable gadget that measures exposure to light across multiple wavelengths, from the ultraviolet (UV) to visible and even infrared parts of the solar spectrum. The device can warn users when levels are getting too high, preventing neonatal jaundice, skin diseases, seasonal affective disorders and reducing the risk of sunburns and skin cancer.
“It weighs as much as a raindrop, has a diameter smaller than that of an M&M and the thickness of a credit card”, is how John Rogers, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering described the widget. “You can mount it on your hat or glue it to your sunglasses or watch. It’s also rugged, waterproof and doesn’t need a battery”.
The device offers great connectivity, as it interacts wirelessly with any phone, and is particularly resilient. “From the standpoint of the user, it couldn’t be easier to use — it’s always on yet never needs to be recharged. There are no switches or interfaces to wear out, and it is completely sealed in a thin layer of transparent plastic. We think it will last forever”.
Inventors of the device hope their creation will develop healthier habits when out in the sun by informing people about the dangers of UV exposure and actively preventing possible damage.
“UV light is ubiquitous and carcinogenic. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide. Right now, people don’t know how much UV light they are actually getting. This device helps you maintain an awareness and for skin cancer survivors, could also keep their dermatologists informed”.
The project is called “My Skin Track UV” and is the result of a collaboration with L’Oreal.