Transparent, stretchy sensors that detect ultraviolet (UV) rays could soon be embedded into clothing and wearable accessories to warn people when they've been in the sun for too long.
Scientists at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Australia have developed a stretchy sensor patch that can detect harmful UV radiation and toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide – a common component of city smog.
The patch, which is flexible and completely transparent, can be worn directly on the skin or integrated into clothing or wearables, according to the research team. It could then alert users via their smart device when radiation reaches harmful levels.
"You could make it into a wristband you could wear to the beach," Philipp Gutruf, a researcher on the project, told tech website Mashable. "Your smartphone could alert you when you'd spent too long exposed and help prevent serious sunburn."
The low-cost patch could also be integrated into protective clothing for manual workers, or pollution-sensing apparel for city dwellers.
New tools that track and counter pollution, from "digital nervous systems" to probiotic bacteria mists, are gaining ground, particularly among consumers in China. Read Urban Defence for more.