Tech In Action: La Roche-Posay fights UV rays with fun

New gamified AR elements aim to keep kids engaged with tracking their sun exposure.

L’Oreal’s La Roche-Posay skincare brand last year launched the My UV Patch, a small heart-shaped adhesive patch thinner than a hair that changes colour based on sun exposure. It measures that exposure and lets users keep track it with a mobile app.

At the recent VivaTech conference in Paris, the brand announced an update to the app that makes keeping tabs on UV rays a little bit more engaging, especially for younger users.

The update maintains most of the previous features of My UV Patch, such as being able to get information from the patch by taking a photo of it, combining that with other information like location and skin tone to give you the best advice (like when to re-apply sunscreen or seek shade). It update also comes with some basic upgrades to its design and user interface, as well as the ability to detect when you have gone indoors.

The big changes, according to an announcement from the company, are all around using other forms of tech that will keep kids engaged with the app and, by extension, limit the degree to which they are exposing themselves to harmful UV rays.

In addition for the ability for users (i.e. parents) to track the exposure of multiple family members, the app also allows users to select an avatar for themselves that they can interact with in an augmented reality experience.

The more times a child scans their patch, the more “superpowers” and activities they unlock for their avatar to do. If the app detects risky behaviour, it forces the child to answer a quiz about safe sun behaviour before being allowed to unlock any additional features.

Following the initial release of My UV Patch last year, the company found 63% of users experienced less sunburn, while 37% used more facial sunscreen and 31% tried to stay in the shade more. However, research shows that getting five or more sunburns before the age of 20 increases the risk of melanoma by 80%, making youth and adolescence an important time to teach people protective behaviours.