SunFriend – A Wearable Device that Promises to Prevent Skin Cancer


The sun, that big orange ball of fire in the sky that we usually tend to take for granted, is a necessary part of life. It makes things grow, it gives us light and warmth, and it provides essential vitamins for the human body. Unfortunately, although the human body needs the sun, it just isn’t able to turn itself off when it has had enough, leading to a host of skin and health issues. Now, however, there is a potential solution called the SunFriend UV Daily Activity Monitor, a piece of wearable technology designed by inventors Shahid Aslam and Karin Edgett.


What is the Big Deal Anyway?

According to the United States Skin Cancer Foundation, 20% of all people, on average, will eventually develop skin cancer due to increased exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Some so-called experts advise covering exposed skin with a liberal amount of sunscreen or sunblock, but while that may help prevent overexposure, it also prevents the sun from providing the body with vitamin D, which the body needs for strong, healthy bones.
Without enough vitamin D, the body can suffer from a host of problems, like muscle and bone pain, severe asthma, and cognitive impairment. People who lack the proper amounts of this vitamin are also at risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It is easy to see, then, why the sun is necessary. With the sun both necessary and detrimental to the body at the same time, what is one to do? Health experts constantly tout the need for a minimum 30 minutes of sunlight per day for most people, but often neglect to expound on the side effects.

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Introducing the SunFriend UV Daily Activity Monitor

Developed by a team of inventors as part of NASA’s 2011 Create the Future contest, the SunFriend is a small device that is worn around the wrist and keeps the wearer apprised of the amount of sunlight his or body is getting. When a specific amount has been reached, the bracelet alerts the wearer that it is time to get out of the sun. The device is both trendy and waterproof, and contains small, powerful sensors that were influenced by NASA itself.

How the SunFriend Works

The SunFriend is built on scientific research that has been internationally recognized, and provides the means to accurately measure both UVA and UVB exposure. The device uses a super sensitive sensor that tracks the wearers exposure to the sun, regardless of whether the sunlight is direct or indirect. After setting the sensitivity level, which depends on the wearers skin color and type, the device is able to determine whether the amount of sunlight is reflected through a window or other surface, and even when sunlight is being partially blocked by cloud cover. The best part about the SunFriend, though, is that it requires no external power source. The sensor itself converts the sun’s UV rays into a DC current, which powers a sophisticated microcontroller to do all of the calculations.

The Team Behind the SunFriend

The team is made up of four key members, all with varying interests and backgrounds. Shahid Aslam, for example, is well-versed in lightweight sensor technology with a background in space exploration projects. Cofounders Siddharth Potbhare, who works as lead engineer on the project, and Karin Edgett, worked closely with Aslam to bring the invention to fruition. Stefan Giroux, a CoolCad Electronics engineer, rounds out the team. The idea behind the SunFriend stemmed from Aslam’s work in the space industry, and the desire to build something small and lightweight for use in that field.

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Getting a SunFriend

The SunFriend recently finished a successful Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and is now in final stages of manufacturing. As of yet, the device isn’t quite ready for the mass market, but due to the popularity of the idea, it should not be long at all before they start popping up on store shelves.