Battery-Free Optical Wearable Device Enables Personalized Phototherapy

Recognizing the need for a more precise and personalized method of measuring light exposure, a group of researchers created a tiny wearable device that optically measures exposure to light across multiple wavelengths. Furthermore, the battery-free device can simultaneously record up to three different wavelengths of light.

When the solar-powered, waterproof, and the nearly indestructible wearable device was attached to human study participants, it recorded multiple types of light exposure during outdoor activities, including swimming. The device measured therapeutic ultraviolet (UV) light in clinical phototherapy booths for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis and blue light phototherapy in the neonatal intensive care unit for newborns with jaundice. It also demonstrated the ability to quantify white light exposure in seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

As a result, it enables precision phototherapy for these health conditions. It monitors UVB and UVA exposure separately and accurately for people at high risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. The sensor can help warn recreational users of impending sunburn.

It couldn’t be easier to use from the user’s perspective—always, it’s on and never needs to be recharged. The wearable device weighs the same as a raindrop, has the diameter of an M&M, and is the thickness of a credit card. You can glue it to your sunglasses or hat or mount it on your hat.

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