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A UV Exposure Sensor is a Killer Feature for Me

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:04am
Ben Munson

My doctor only had to remove about a quarter-size chunk of my neck. But really, any size chunk being cut off of your neck is more than most people prefer.

There wasn’t much pain. With the area thoroughly numbed, my other senses were left to interpret what was happening. I could hear the sickening snip of the surgical scissors made as they cut through my skin. I could smell the smoke from the soldering tool cauterizing my wound. Eventually, I got to see the hole left just below my right ear. It looked surreal, like a zombie bite.

I had gone in for a general skin consultation and had decided to point out a mole which I thought was new. That mole turned out to be melanoma skin cancer.

If left in place, there’s a chance it could have spread. It’s gone now and the scar left in its place grows less and less visible every day. But the irrational fear it put in place doesn’t seem to fade. It actually grows more acute as the mercury climbs and the clouds part. I can’t conclusively say that it developed from exposure to the sun and UV rays, but I’ll slather on the sunblock and hide in the shade just in case, thank you very much.

Given my medical scare, you can forgive me for being psyched about the talk of a possible UV exposure sensor in the rumored iWatch. For real, put that thing in any smartwatch, smartshirt, smartshoes, smartpants, I don’t care. I want it. This is the killer mHealth feature for me.

Up to this point, fitness tracking has been the flagship feature for a lot of wearables already on the market. Fitness is a noble goal, one that every person should work toward. But there are plenty of ways to pursue fitness without having a watch constantly beeping at you, alerting you to the depressingly small amount of progress you’ve made.

A UV exposure sensor, though, could provide me with piece of mind—or feed into my anxiety, depending on my mood—that I can’t find elsewhere. Sunblock and common sense are invaluable in the fight against skin cancer, but I’ll take any help I can get.

With respect to fitness tracking, I hope this is the health-monitoring direction in which wearables are heading: saving people from themselves. Tell us when to get out of the sun. Remind us that two drinks is enough. Get us to stop eating. Shoot the cigarette out of our hand with a tiny laser. This is health tracking for people who need more help staying alive than they need staying fit.

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