L’Oréal unveils stretchable UV monitor patch and app

Skin sensor alerts users about sun exposure

L’Oréal has revealed details of a new stretchable monitor designed to alert users to their level of UV exposure. The company says the technology will be made available to consumers in time for summer.

Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the device is designed for use alongside the La Roche-Posay My UV Patch app. Unlike existing UV monitors, the stretchable one square inch patch adheres directly to any area of skin that consumers choose to monitor. At half the thickness of the average hair strand, the patch is also virtually weightless.

Users are instructed to take a photo of the patch on their skin and upload it to the app for analysis. The app can detect the level of UV exposure via varying photosensitive dye squares in the patch. The app then advises the users whether they need to apply more sunscreen, take a break or head into the shade for the rest of the day.

The app will be made available on both iOS and Android, with Near Field Communications-enabled technology available for the patch-scanning process on Android. The patch was developed at L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator in the US alongside stretchable electronics company MC10.

L’Oréal hopes the sensor will help consumers educate themselves about sun protection. La Roche-Posay Dermatologist Alysa Herman, MD, explained: “La Roche-Posay recently commissioned a global study in 23 countries, which surveyed 19,000 women and men. It found a huge gap in consumer behaviour: even though 92% were aware that unprotected sun exposure can cause health problems, only 26% of Americans protect themselves all year round. With My UV Patch, for the first time, we are leveraging technology to help incite a true behavioural change through real-time knowledge.”

Guive Balooch, Global Vice President at L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, said: “Previous technologies could only tell users the amount of potential sun exposure they were receiving per hour while wearing rigid, non-stretchable device. The key was to design a sensor that was thin, comfortable and virtually weightless so people would actually want to wear it. We’re excited to be the first beauty company entering the stretchable electronics field and to explore the many potential applications for this technology within our industry and beyond.”

Skin experts and health campaigners have welcomed the launch. Dr Christopher Rowland Payne, Consultant Dermatologist at The London Clinic, commented: "It is an ingenius way of giving people the information they need. I hope it will also get people talking to each other about safe sun exposure."

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