L'Oréal is breaking into the wearable electronics game with a stretchable skin sensor that tells wearers exactly how much UV exposure they're getting.
The My UV Patch from La Roche-Posay, one of L'Oréal Group’s skin-care brands, was introduced Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s basically a very thin sticker — half the thickness of a strand of hair — so that "when you apply it, it becomes like a second skin," Guive Balooch, global vice president of L'Oréal's Technology Incubator, told TODAY.
"I won't tell you there's nothing on the market that measures UV," he said. "A number of bracelets and wristbands have come out, but I think the challenge is that they're only on your wrist, and you can't apply product on them."
L'Oréal's patch can be put anywhere on exposed skin and you can apply sunscreen over it. A heart on the sticker is made up of 16 different boxes that change color when exposed to UV rays. It works with a mobile app; when wearers are ready for a UV reading, they take a photo of the heart and upload it.
Of course, you could argue that a user could skip the app and simply look at the heart's changing colors to get a sense of how much sun they're getting, but Balooch says plugging the photo into the app gives readers an exact reading, plus it tells you when you're getting the most UV exposure — maybe on your walk to work, or a mid-morning coffee run, for example. That way, you know when you need to be more vigilant about sun protection.
"We give you information about your behavior and the idea is that this information will help you take preventative measures in the future," Balooch said.
So he doesn’t expect people to wear the patch forever, just until they learn about their own UV exposure. The patch is disposable and can be worn for up to five days.
L'Oréal teamed up with PCH, a design engineering firm, to create the sensor, which is stretchable thanks to five super-thin layers, said Liam Casey, CEO of PCH.
"That was part of the challenge of producing it," Casey told TODAY. "Making sure everything moved, and it's very flexible."
The My UV Patch and the corresponding app are still in their beta phase, but L'Oréal plans to provide them for free to customers later this year.