Visible light – the light that we see with our unaided eyes – reflects off the outer layer of the skin. Ultraviolet light, however, penetrates below to the second layer. It was with this in mind that Korean tech firm Nurugo created the SmartUV. Currently being showcased at CES, it's a UV-imaging camera that can be plugged into a smartphone, allowing users to see beneath the surface of their skin.
The main intended use for the SmartUV is the monitoring of skin health – Nurugo suggests that it could allow users to catch problems early, before they become visible on the skin's surface.
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Another potential use, however, is to check that no areas have been missed when applying sunscreen. Although rubbed-in sunscreen may be transparent when viewed under visible light, it appears black when imaged by a UV camera. This is because sunscreen is specifically designed to block ultraviolet light.
The camera itself is being made in two versions – one with a Lightning plug for use with iPhones, and one with a micro USB plug for Android phones. There are likewise iOS and Android versions of the accompanying app.
The device is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of US$95 will get you one, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is $195.
Given that price point, potential buyers might want to also check out the successfully-Kickstarted Sunscreenr. It's a miniature stand-alone UV camera (with a built-in screen) that can now be preordered for $119.
The SmartUV can be seen in use, in the video below.