L'Oreal's clip-on sensor to track UV, pollen and pollution

Its primary function is UV monitoring, but could also provide insight into humidity, pollen and pollution

Photo: L'Oreal

Lets just admit it - L'Oreal isn't a brand you would probably associate with medical technology, but over the past few years it's been making major inroads in skin protection innovation. Yet, there was My UV Patch, designed to inform wearers how their skin was being affected by the sun, and then UV Sense, a thumbnail-sized smart device that helped monitor sun exposure. Now, the company is also launching a battery-free wearable electronic that was designed to make wearers aware of their levels of UV exposure, as well as other skin-damaging pollutants, such as pollen and humidity, thus giving them individualised, actionable steps to keep their exposure at a healthy level.

The device, dubbed My Skin Track/UV, is waterproof and relies neither on battery nor Bluetooth. Instead, when sunlight passes through a miniscule window in the sensor, it hits an LED detector, and the UV photons are stored in a capacitor. Embedded in the sensor, too, is a near-field communication antenna. When you bring the sensor close to your phone, the antenna transfers the photon data from the sensor to your phone. 

The smart device is the latest development from L'Oréal’s Tech Incubator, the beauty company’s technology research and development lab and has been created in partnership with L'Oreal's skincare brand La Roche-Posay and Professor John Rogers from Northwestern University - the person who introduced wearable tattoos two years ago. 

“We’re working on projects around personalised and precise beauty,” says Guive Balooch, who started the incubator nearly seven years ago and now leads its 35-member team. “Everything is just under the umbrella of technology, design, and how beauty can be at the center of that.”

The UV sensor technology, however, may address a critical need in skin cancer prevention, too. UV radiation causes the forms of DNA damage that lead to skin cancer, which is estimated to affect one in five Americans. Balooch hopes that wearers’ awareness of UV exposure will increase their likelihood of adopting protective skincare behaviors, like applying sunscreen and seeking shade.

On the more broader note, my Skin Track UV signals a notable shift in how beauty technology is sold. My UV Patch will be sold, starting today, at Apple stores across the US and on Apple’s website.

“I think that it opens the door for a new consumer market for us, and a new retail environment,” Balooch comments.

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