A new bikini has launched that warns sun bathers of their level of UV exposure via their smartphones.
The Connected Bikini uses a tiny, waterproof sunlight sensor, fitted to the swimsuit's fabric, which sends alerts to the user's smartphone – through a specially created app – about when they need to reapply sunscreen or when they should move indoors, depending on their skin type.
Spinali Design, the French company behind the innovation, has also launched a beach towel using the same technology and is currently working on a child's version, which also includes a GPS alert to warn parents if their children start to wander off on the beach. This variation is due to launch in July.
Users must input data about their skin type through a series of questions and log applications of SPF using the smartphone app. The device has been tested by the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission and complies with all European standards.
Spinali's Connected Bikini
Marie Spinali, CEO at Spinali Design, explained the inspiration behind the products: "The project came from an off-the-cuff remark after seeing people looking like lobsters still in the sun." She wondered why these people didn't apply more sunscreen or head into the shade. Already enjoying an accomplished career in the IT industry, Spinali started to develop the swimsuit so that people could relax and enjoy the beach without worrying about sun exposure.
The swimsuits are available online for worldwide shipping, costing from €225 for a custom-made design, €167 for a standard swimsuit or €111 for a beach towel. A special 'Valentine's' version is also available, sending a message to the wearer's partner so they can reapply the user's sunscreen instead.
With a similar warning mechanism already on the market in the form of stickers, wristbands and watches, it is unclear how much of an impact this device will have on consumer behaviour.
Andrew Levine, CEO at Jads International – creators of the SunburnAlert stickers and wristbands, said: "Millions of people each year are diagnosed with skin cancer, very few people understand when they need to reapply and when they need to cover up exposed skin. Electronic alert sensors are helpful, but there are too many limitations to them because you cannot take your phone in the water or use your phone during many outdoor activities, therefore the user cannot properly maintain their sun exposure."
However, he added, "with skin cancer being at epidemic levels around the world, we welcome any technology that will help people understand how dangerous being overexposed to the sun can be."