L'Oreal's Skin-thin Wearable Tracks Sun Exposure

A version of the adhesive patch—no thicker than a human hair—is currently being tested by L'Oreal to help consumers track their sun exposure.
By Claire Swedberg

Consumers will be able to download the My UV Patch application, which will be available for use with an NFC-enabled Android or iOS smartphone, and then use that phone to read the patch's built-in passive NFC RFID inlay. A user will be able to photograph the patch with the phone and then upload that image to software running on a server hosted by L'Oreal. The software will analyze the varying shades of blue and determine the amount of UV exposure that the wearer has received. The app will then offer suggestions regarding when to reapply sunscreen at the proper sun protection factor (SPF), in addition to indicating how much sun exposure that person has received. L'Oreal says it created the My UV Patch to encourage sun-safe behavior.

Manufacturing a patch the width of a human hair, with an NFC chip and an antenna, posed some challenge for PCH, Yousefi notes. "We had to overcome many challenges to stack multiple layers into a form factor that is just 0.05 millimeter [0.002 inch] thick," he says. MC10 developed the underlying WiSP technology and, with PCH, refined it for commercial production. PCH then built a custom assembly that combined multiple suppliers and processes for the NCF antenna, as well as thin film lamination, high-precision silkscreen, a high-tolerance layering stack and die-cutting.

PCH Lime Lab's Andre Yousefi
The resulting patch is intended to fit into an individual's daily activities, both in terms of comfort and appearance. Because it is flexible, Yousefi adds, a wearer often forgets it is attached to his or her body. Visually, he says, the patch is hardly noticeable, but it can be customized with a logo or graphic, adding a branding or personalization opportunity.

Several use cases across various customer-engagement experiences are currently being explored for the WiSP platform, Yousefi says. These include applications in entertainment (such as sporting events and concerts) and hospitality (hotels, cruises and theme parks). The patch is disposable and can be produced at mass consumer scale. "We envision scenarios where skin-worn technology could be used at concerts, theme parks or large public gatherings," Yousefi says, "to enable a variety of interactions with consumers."

MC10's Ben Schlatka
Although Yousefi declines to identify what the price will be, he says the product is disposable and the cost is thus expected to be much lower than that of a traditional wearable product.

PCH is now in discussions with multiple brands to customize the system according to consumer applications. "We are eager to work with third-party brands who will be in the best position to envision how this platform can be utilized to provide personalized interactions," Yousefi states.

L'Oreal has exclusive rights for the WiSP technology for all beauty applications.

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