My UV Patch is a sensor wearable tattoo by L’Oreal designed to monitor UV exposure and help consumers educate themselves about sun protection. It’s a transparent adhesive half the thickness of an average strand of hair with a patch that contains photosensitive dyes that factor in the baseline skin tone and change colors when exposed to UV rays to indicate varying levels of sun.
After time outside, the wearer can take a photo of the patch and upload it to a corresponding mobile app, which analyzes the varying photosensitive dye squares to determine the amount of UV exposure the wearer has received. The app then advises if it’s time to move into the shade or apply sunscreen.
UV Patch in theory has a lot going for it. It’s commendation to see stretchable electronic sensors in healthcare. It’s also great to see a wearable that measures UV exposure rather than simply sun exposure, as UV rays can also be damaging in the shade and under trees. But the limitation of the patch is that the wearer needs to keep taking pictures of the patch and uploading it to the app, something which would become easy to forget or bothersome after a period of time. And while waterproof, L’Oréal didn’t mention whether the patch would cope with a routine of bathing with soap, application of sunscreen, and exposure to salt and chlorine.
Statistically, skin cancers are disproportionately concentrated on the head compared with other parts of the body, with the face, nose, and ears particularly vulnerable. Hard to see anyone putting this patch there. Surely there’s a way to keep the most vulnerable part of our skin monitored and safe without such a conspicuous wearable. (Smart hats, anyone?)
The patch does seem a step up from the June wearable bracelet by Netatmo that also measures sun exposure through UV sensors. It’s been criticized by some reviewers for only providing measurable information in direct sunlight. And it can’t be worn when swimming.
The UV patch only lasts for five days. Repeat applications could get expensive (the retail prices has not been released). It will be interesting to see how future versions compare.