Researchers develop world’s smallest wearable device

Team led by engineer John Rogers worked with L’Oréal to launch first-of-its kind, tiny wearable electronic device to monitor UV exposure.

A tiny piece of innovative tech wants to help you stay away from sun-induced skin cancer. Global beauty leader L’Oréal teamed up with prolific designer Yves Béhar of fuseproject to create UV Sense — the first battery-free wearable electronic ultraviolet sensor. UV Sense collects and shares real-time data on individual UV exposure with a wearable so small and thin, it fits on a fingernail. Lucy Wong inhabitat

By Jon Yates, Northwestern University January 08, 2018

EVANSTON – A Northwestern University professor, working in conjunction with the global beauty company L’Oréal, has developed the smallest wearable device in the world. The wafer-thin, feather-light sensor can fit on a fingernail and precisely measures a person’s exposure to UV light from the sun.

The device, as light as a raindrop and smaller in circumference than an M&M, is powered by the sun and contains the world’s most sophisticated and accurate UV dosimeter. It was unveiled Sunday, Jan. 7, at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and will be called UV Sense.

“We think it provides the most convenient, most accurate way for people to measure sun exposure in a quantitative manner,” said Northwestern engineer John A. Rogers. “The broader goal is to provide a technology platform that can save lives and reduce skin cancers by allowing individuals, on a personalized level, to modulate their exposure to the sun.”

L’Oreal and Northwestern unveil world’s smallest wearable tech. UV Sense, the first ever battery-free wearable electronic UV sensor, is unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The sensor will reduce occurrences of skin cancer by helping consumers monitor levels of sun exposure. The device is a collaboration between Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, Feinberg School of Medicine and L’Oreal’s La Roche-Posay brand. NorthwesternU. Published onYoutube Jan 10, 2018

UV Sense has no moving parts, no battery, is waterproof and can be attached to almost any part of the body or clothing, where it continuously measures UV exposure in a unique accumulation mode.

Rogers said the device, created in a partnership with L’Oréal, is meant to stick on a thumbnail — a stable, rigid surface that ensures robust device adherence. It’s also an optimal location to measure exposure to the sun.

“It is orders of magnitude smaller than anything else out there,” Rogers said. “It also is one of the few sensors that directly measures the most harmful UV rays. Further, it simultaneously records body temperature, which is also very important in the context of sun exposure.”

Users need only to download an app (for iOS and Android phones), then swipe the phone over the device to see their exposure to the sun, either for that day or over time. The app can suggest other, less UV-intense times for outdoor activities or give peace of mind to individuals who are concerned about overexposure.

“UV Sense is transformative technology that permits people to receive real-time advice via mobile phone messages when they exceed their daily safe sun limit,” said June K. Robinson MD, research professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

UV Sense by L’Oreal and Yves Béhar. The technology can hold individual UV exposure data for up to three months.

Roger’s research group at Northwestern, in collaboration with Robinson and researchers at Feinberg, have received a roughly $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to deploy the fingernail UV sensors in human clinical studies of sun exposure in cohorts of subjects who are at risk for melanoma. The first pre-pilot field trials launched in December.

“Sunlight is the most potent known carcinogen,” Rogers said. “It’s responsible for more cancers than any other carcinogen known to man, and it’s everywhere — even in Chicago.”

On average, half the U.S. population experiences a sunburn once a year or more, he said, and there are more than a million melanoma survivors in the U.S. alone.

Guive Balooch, Global Vice President of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, said the company’s research shows that overexposure to UV rays is a top health and beauty concern of consumers worldwide.

“With this knowledge, we set out to create something that blends problem-solving technology with human-centered design to reach even more consumers who require additional information about their UV exposure,” Balooch said. “Whenever we develop a new technology, our goal is to make an enormous global impact by enhancing consumers’ lives.”

Rogers said the aesthetic design features of UV Sense are also important because they can help break down barriers to adoption. The device can be produced in any color with any pattern, logo or branding.

Last year, Rogers’ cutting-edge invention, the Microfluidic System on the Skin, was selected as an exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. As the Rogers Lab at Northwestern continues to develop new products, Rogers believes the technology his team developed will have other applications that can help consumers better monitor their health.

“What also excites me is that there’s novelty at the level of the academic science,” said Rogers, the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery in the McCormick School of Engineering and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The resulting technology has strong potential for positive impact on human health.”

John Rogers — bio-integrated lab. Designed and manufactured by the Rogers Lab at Northwestern University, the soft, flexible bio-integrated lab is the next generation of wearable technology and has been featured in the Modern Museum of Art (MoMA) in New York.

With skin-like properties, the lab captures, features, and analyzes the chemistry of sweat, with wireless connectivity. But Rogers is already moving beyond sweat to integrate labs with each other, as well as implement the technology in clinical settings: with infants in the hospital, as well as inside the body on the heart and even the brain.

John Rogers is a MacArthur Fellow, a Lemelson-MIT Prize winner, and leads the new Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics at Northwestern’s Simpson Querrey Institute of BioNanotechnology. NorthwesternU. Youtube Jan 9, 2018

Also see
World’s smallest wearable device warns of UV exposure, enables precision phototherapy in Northwestern University
My skin track UV: a battery-free wearable sun safety sensor by La Roche-Posay in L’Oréal
L’Oréal UV sensor sticks to your fingernail in The Verge
L’Oréal new battery-free wearable fits on your thumbnail, measures UV exposure in Digital Trends
Tiny Yves Béhar-designed wearable warns you when you’ve had too much sun in Inhabitat
Wearable technology breakthrough in Northwestern University
Bionic Skin for a Cyborg You in IEEE Spectrum

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