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Save your skin from sun damage by snapping a photo in invisible ultraviolet

Why it matters to you

Skin can be hard to care for, but this camera lets you monitor damage to proactively protect yourself.

Skin cancer kills one person every hour, according to the American Cancer Society, and yet many people still don’t make the effort to protect their skin from the sun.

A new Kickstarter campaign for the Nurugo SmartUV hopes to promote skin health by letting people see themselves in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, which is invisible to the naked eye.

“Medical research shows that early detection and prevention is the most effective ways to maintain great skin health,” Cory Bellamy, a representative from Nurugo manufacturer Union Community, told Digital Trends, “but because sun damage takes a long time to develop before it becomes visible very few of us realize that we may have a problem.”

Union Community’s Nurugo SmartUV turns standard smartphones into a UV camera. The images can be unsettling but they uncover vulnerabilities and skin damage that otherwise couldn’t be seen with the naked eye.

“If you look at your skin in UV light, you can see past the outer layer and the skin irregularities that are hidden are suddenly revealed,” Bellamy said. “Even if your skin looks perfect in normal light, UV light is able to reveal a surprising picture of what is actually happening.”

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Union Community has a history of creating cameras to see the invisible. Last year, the company held a successful Kickstarter campaign for its Nurugo Micro, a smartphone attachment that could magnify images 400 times. Although the Micro may have been a niche product, Bellamy sees the Smart UV as fulfilling a more universal need.

“The SmartUV is intended for everyone that is concerned about the impact of sun damage on their skin,” he said. “Skin health professionals like dermatologists and clinicians will be able to use the SmartUV when diagnosing patients and teaching them about their skin health, parents can use it to teach their family about skin health and everyone can use it to monitor their skin for irregularities and the efficiency of your sunblock and how well it was applied.”

SmartUV devices will retail for $195 but are available for $125 through Kickstarter. With just about six weeks to go, the campaign has earned nearly $56,250 of it’s $80,000 goal.