The tiny button-like device that can prevent skin cancer and cure mood disorder

28/09/2021 20mins
Phani Kumar S


One of the leading factors that can cause skin cancer is overexposure to harmful UV or Ultraviolet rays. Skin cancer, characterized by abnormal growth of skin cells, is by far considered one of the most common types of cancer. At the moment, there is no established tool yet that will be able to measure the level of UV exposure people are actually getting.

However, recently, scientists have developed an advanced device which is capable of measuring UV ray exposure. This tiny, wearable device is smaller than M&m’s chocolate candy and is thinner than a credit card. Considered as the world’s smallest wearable, the device is battery-free and waterproof. This groundbreaking device is designed to help optimize the treatment of various skin conditions including:

  • Neonatal jaundice

  • SAD or Seasonal affective disorder

  • Reduce the risk of skin burn

  • Reduce the risk of skin cancer

The new device is wireless and interacts with the phone. It works by monitoring and measuring the UV rays of the surroundings. Then it keeps its user aware about the level of UV exposure they have. With its ability to warn users against UV radiation, the device can be particularly helpful for those skin cancer survivors.

This rugged device can be fastened to the hat, clipped to the sunglasses or glued on the nails of the users. It is capable of recording up to three separate wavelengths of light simultaneously.

Based on the Science Translational Medicine journal published in the paper, researches have stated that the device is securely sealed in a thin layer of transparent plastic. It has neither a switch nor an interface prone to wear out.

During the study, the participants who mounted the device on themselves were able to record multiple forms of light exposure while they were outdoors. This is true, even when they are in the water.

The device was able to detect therapeutic UV light that is used in clinical phototherapy booths to treat psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and other skin issues associated with autoimmune diseases. It can also monitor UV light used in blue light phototherapy for newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit afflicted with jaundice. In addition, impressively enough, the device is capable of measuring white light exposure for seasonal mood disorder called SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the same time every year and is related to the seasons.

As mentioned earlier, the button-like device does not require batteries to operate. In fact, it is always on and does not need to be recharged at all.

Steve Xu, from the US’s Northwestern University, has stated that there is indeed a critical need for technologies that can measure and promote safe UV exposure accurately, at a personalized level in the natural environments.

Furthermore, Xu said that with the use of the device, they hope that since people will now have information about their exposure to the hazardous UV rays, hopefully, this will encourage them to develop healthier habits when they are out in the sun.


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