My UV Patch Free with firm’s sun­cream

The Irish Times - Business - - TECHNOLOGY - Steven Dou­glas

Last year L’Oreal an­nounced it had de­vel­oped a wear­able, stretch­able sen­sor that con­nected to a user’s smart­phone and – at least ini­tially – could be used to mon­i­tor the wearer’s sun ex­po­sure. My UV Patch is now avail­able with both iOS and An­droid apps when you pur­chase the firm’s La Roche-Posay sun­cream.

You use the patch to ed­u­cate your­self about sun ex­po­sure. Know­ing the one that’s one too many has be­come a mantra for the drinks in­dus­try; per­haps some­thing sim­i­lar needs to be im­ple­mented for sun wor­ship­pers.

Which is where Lo­real’s new tech­nol­ogy comes in. The sen­sor will mon­i­tor your sun ex­po­sure, and when you are reach­ing the dan­ger zone, it will alert you. It’s up you what you do with that in­for­ma­tion.

Some of that in­for­ma­tion is gath­ered by ask­ing the user a few short ques­tions about their skin tone, their age, the type of sun pro­tec­tion they will be us­ing. You ac­ti­vate the patch by scan­ning it in the app, and after that you are prompted to scan it at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals through­out the day. As it is ex­posed to UV rays, the patch reg­is­ters the in­for­ma­tion through pho­to­sen­si­tive dyes.

It lasts for about five days and al­though by day three my patch was start­ing to look a lit­tle worse for wear around the edges, it still stayed put. Ap­ply­ing it was easy once I fol­lowed the in­struc­tions. The patch is so flex­i­ble that it will fold in on it­self, like a plas­ter only a bit more high tech.

The good news is the patch, once ap­plied, is rea­son­ably dif­fi­cult to re­move. That’s a good move on L’Oreal’s part; it has to with­stand a lot over its five days, par­tic­u­larly if you are us­ing it on younger users. It’s also wa­ter re­sis­tant and very flex­i­ble. You ba­si­cally treat it like skin: wash it, put sun cream over it.

Once ap­plied, scan it by opening the app, and the patch is ac­ti­vated. For chil­dren, you can set a char­ac­ter that helps them work to­wards the sun-safe goal – He­lios or Helia. Rack up enough good sun be­hav­iour scans and you can un­lock re­wards such as new ac­ces­sories for He­lios and Helia.

The app takes into ac­count your lo­ca­tion and prompts you to scan at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, scor­ing you as it goes.

Each time you scan the tag, you are given the ver­dict on your day’s be­hav­iour. It may be that you have fol­lowed all the rules and got the thumbs up from the app; if you’ve en­gaged in what is classed as risky sun be­hav­iour you’ll get a warn­ing about be­ing at risk of sun­burn.

It’s easy to use as long as you have good light. Once the sun goes down, you get your re­port for the day.

You need a lot of nat­u­ral light though to get the patch to scan prop­erly. The big chal­lenge is get­ting kids to keep the patch on, al­though you can put it some­where un­ob­tru­sive and still catch the sun with it. Get­ting a child to stay still long enough to get a good scan is also a test, but the app works quickly enough.

The good

If noth­ing else, My UV Patch serves as a re­minder about our sun habits. Hav­ing to scan the patch ev­ery 90 min­utes or so makes you think about how much sun ex­po­sure you are get­ting and if you’ve ap­plied sun pro­tec­tion cor­rectly.

The not so good

After five days, the patch needs to be re­moved, mak­ing it an­other dis­pos­able item you have to re­place. You need lots of nat­u­ral light to get a good scan. Fi­nally, you only get one patch per bot­tle of sun­cream and we couldn’t find any­where that of­fered ex­tra patches for sale with­out buy­ing an­other bot­tle.

The rest

La Roche Posay is of­fer­ing the patch free with some of its sun pro­tec­tion prod­ucts. There’s an Ir­ish con­nec­tion : the patch is man­u­fac­tured by PCH, a Cork based com­pany that has a track record with in­no­va­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing in China.

The ver­dict

A good techie way to keep you on top of sun safety.

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