A fetching hankie on the head only cuts it for so long and as temperatures soar across Europe, ultraviolet detectors are in vogue. Shade is the latest to hit the market.
Founder Emmanuel Dumont says the disc-like device’s technology is proven to be thirty times more sensitive than any other device on the market. A bold claim. Designed to help people better protect themselves against the sun, Shade promises an “ultra-accurate, ultra-precise, real-time measurement” of UV exposure – and it delivers, drawing on decades of UV research.
Low-cost UV sensors have been around for over 60 years, Dumont says, but because they were developed for germicidal and bactericidal applications (i.e. to sense bacteria, viruses and other pathogens) they don’t adhere to the “spectral sensitivity” of UV in relation to skin and sunburn.
“Our scientific breakthrough is that we’ve developed the right photodetector and the right filter to mimic human skin. And Shade is the first low-cost UV sensor in the world to measure UV radiation with the same sensitivity [as skin],” he says.
Shade is inspired and informed by the work of British professor Brian L Diffey. In the 1980s, the seminal photobiology scientist researched the wavelengths in UVA and UVB and discovered that the skin will burn 1,000 times sooner from the same amount of UVB as UVA.
As a result, argues Dumont, UV detectors should give “exponentially more weight to UVB than to UVA”, which is exactly what Shade does.
“Other sensors give results that are wildly wrong with detectors that are more sensitive to UVA than to UVB. Some of them are off by more than one order of magnitude, so you can imagine the consequences for the skin. Their sensitivity to UV is nothing close to the human skin’s sensitivity,” he says. While other detectors offer an accuracy that doesn’t exceed 8%, Shade offers 85%, he claims.
As well as harbouring a sensor that measures both UVA and UVB, the device also sets itself apart by being able to read UV in any situation; outdoors and in. Shade is even sensitive enough to pick up UV rays from light bulbs.