A mobile phone app that uses space tech to identify the healthiest way to sunbathe has won the industrial approval of BASF, a giant chemical company that makes the ingredients for sunscreen and many other products.
Sunshine has important health benefits - it spurs the body to produce vitamin D - as well as risks ranging from premature ageing to skin cancer.
So siHealth, a company supported by the European Space Agency and based in Harwell in the UK, has used satellite data to build a personalised app that enables sunbathers to identify their optimal exposure.
Sunbathers can download the app and personalise it by adding their skin type, height and weight, as well as information on whether or not they have applied sunscreen and what clothes they are wearing.
The device then combines this information with the phone’s location and data on ultraviolet irradiation gleaned from Earth observing satellites.
It creates a dashboard that shows how long the person can remain in the sunshine to maximise the production of vitamin D while minimising skin ageing and preventing sunburn.
The European Space Agency helped siHealth develop the app through its programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) , which provides co-funding, multi-disciplinary expertise, business knowledge and opportunities for a wide range of companies.
Its success has now attracted the attention of BASF, which has a division that offers a broad range of ingredients for personal care. It has entered into a strategic alliance with siHealth that will allow it to market satellite technologies to the personal care industry globally.
"With this equity investment in siHealth, we are able to commercialise siHealth’s technology exclusively in the personal care industry. Our initial products will enable new possibilities to support our customers providing sun care solutions to the market," says Robert Parker, director of new business development at BASF’s Care Chemicals division.
"We are proud to become a member of the BASF ecosystem. This partnership paves the way for bringing our know-how and technology into the personal care market," says Emilio Simeone, founder and chief executive of siHealth.