Hands on: L’Oréal My UV Patch

L’Oréal's UV exposure NFC patch is thinner than a human hair, and completely free

It’s highly unlikely that right now, you associate L’Oréal with cutting edge wearable technology, but the more-than-a-century old beauty company is about to change that preconception with a groundbreaking piece of stretchable, wearable tech called the My UV Patch.

Developed with healthcare technology company MC10 and set to be marketed under the La Roche-Posey brand later this year, it’s an almost ridiculously simple, yet technically fascinating way to monitor skin exposure to UV rays. Beyond that, it’s a push into bringing health-based wearable tech to potentially millions of people. Oh, and did we mention it’ll essentially be free?

The patch is almost ridiculously simple, but it’s a technically fascinating way to monitor skin exposure to UV rays.

The My UV Patch looks something like those temporary tattoos worn by kids, but it’s actually a stretchable electronic skin patch. It measures less than 50 micrometers thick, which is less than the thickness of a human hair. It really does become part of your body. Despite the svelte design, it consists of five different layers — an adhesive to hold everything together, photo sensitive dyes, an NFC array, an encapsulating layer for it, and the medical grade adhesive for the skin.

Once stuck to your skin in a spot that’s sure to be exposed to the sun, the amount of UV exposure is measured and indicated using photosensitive dyes. The blue and white squares will alter in color depending on the UV rays detected. That’s nothing really new. What’s cool is the simplicity with which real, actionable results are retrieved. Remember, this is a patch, not a bracelet or a broach with a battery; yet it still collects data and syncs with an app on your phone.

It uses NFC or a camera to retrieve the data

The iPhone app opens with a camera view, and after snapping a picture of the patch — where you cutely line-up the heart-shaped patch in a heart-shaped window — the day’s exposure is transferred and shown in a graph, as well as a graphical indicator of when you’ve had enough for the day. You can check the metrics at any time and as many times as you like. The app also has push reminders to make sure you don’t forget to look at your UV exposure.

When the Android app arrives, there’ll be no need for the picture, and instead the patch will use NFC to connect and gather the data. It’s the same as tapping a phone onto a Bluetooth speaker to link them up, and it was incredibly quick in out demo. Since the patch will most likely be on your hand or arm, you won’t need to be a contortionist to bring phone and patch together.

They last for about five days once applied, are showerproof, have no batteries, and there’s no initial cost or ongoing cost to the patches. Sticking the patch onto skin took seconds, and there’s no special method to use, plus the data shown in the app is presented clearly. In other words, it’s easy to integrate into everyday life. It’s only available as a heart shape, which may not suit men. For now, it only comes in blue and white — because of a current restriction of the photosensitive dyes — but other colors are possible in the future.

L’Oréal’s taking the patch, and its development, very seriously. For example, MC10, the company which makes the stretchable material, already produces medical-grade second-skin wearable tech for the healthcare industry. It has also spent time refining and perfecting the gathering of UV exposure data using the patch, ensuring it keeps up with more traditional methods in terms of accuracy.

It’s about changing behavior

Why should you care about measuring UV light exposure? Overexposure can cause premature ageing, wrinkles, and other skin problems. At worst, it may contribute to skin cancer. Using the right products — which L’Oréal and La Roche-Posay sell, obviously — and minimizing the time spent, unprotected, in the sun can reduce these problems. L’Oréal considers the patches an important step in bringing about a behavioral change regarding overexposure to harmful rays.

How do you get one? L’Oréal says they’ll be made available at no cost later this year, in 15 different countries including the U.S. and the U.K. The distribution methods haven’t been finalized yet, but the patches may be part of giveaways at salons, or come with related products. I was told a wide range of options will be implemented. L’Oréal wants to make it easy for people to obtain a My UV Patch.

Some may scoff L’Oréal’s My UV Patch is little more than a promotional tool for selling creams, but it’s way more than that. It’s a a non-tech company using cutting edge wearable tech to promote a healthier lifestyle. And, they’re not charging anything extra in the process. It’s very hard not to get excited about that.

Highs

  • Simple to apply
  • No costs
  • Fast, easy data transfer
  • Waterproof

Lows

  • Only one design
Mobile

New sensor from L’Oréal tracks UV exposure to keep your skin safe from the sun

L'Oréal has announced a new wearable sensor that attaches to your clothing and can track ultraviolet light. The sensor uses NFC instead of Bluetooth -- meaning it doesn't need a battery to work properly.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!
Mobile

Samsung patents show what Infinity-O display could look like on Galaxy S10

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Mobile

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.
Deals

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.
Music

Music to our ears: Spotify at long last arrives on the Apple Watch

Spotify subscribers are now able to jam out to their favorite tunes on their favorite workout accessory, as the Swedish streaming service has finally released its official Apple Watch app.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Health & Fitness

Withings new Pulse HR is a customizable, connected fitness tracker

Inspired by Withings first ever fitness tracker the Pulse, the new Pulse HR is updated with the latest in fitness tracker technology including smart notifications, 24/7 heart rate tracking, and more.
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.