Brian Matthys honed his internal instincts for when he had gotten too much sun during his years as a teenage lifeguard.
Now, after a couple of decades as a dermatologist, Matthys is trying to use technology to give people a more scientific measurement.
Matthys is working with several local companies to develop a fitness wristband that will not only track steps, it will also track sun exposure and tell the wearer when it's time to put on more sunscreen or find some shade.
"After 20 years of watching people get skin cancer and not knowing what they need to do to prevent it, I just felt like, enough is enough," said Matthys, who practices in Riverside, Mo.
Matthys said the goal of the Eclipse Rx wristband is to allow people to be active and outside while at the same time making sure their skin is taken care of. Kind of like an electronic mom, telling you when it's time to apply another layer of sunblock.
There's a few similar products on the market, but Matthys said his would be the first that's solar powered. It would also be more personalized than most, with the ability to customize its alerts to the wearer's skin tone on a 1-through-6 scale and it would be the first wearable sun monitor that syncs with the Apple Health app.
Matthys said the app is intended to be a clinical tool that stores information on daily UV exposure that can be used just by the wearer or shared with the wearer's dermatologist.
"Our whole focus is based on 20 years of experience in the patient room," Matthys said.
Matthys said he's partnering with Engenious Design in Overland Park to design the wristband, Crema in Kansas City to develop the smartphone app and Cargt Consulting in Lenexa to build a prototype of the wristband.
The device's patent application is pending and there's no estimated date yet for it to come to market.
But it's something Matthys has been thinking about for decades and now it's closer to reality.
"Imagine, 20 years ago we didn't have an iPhone, we didn't have any way of using wearable technology," Matthys said. "It just wasn't en vogue. ... It was one of those things where we just had to wait for the technology and the culture to make a device that would fit both.
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