Sun smarts to save lives

Prevention is better than a cure, and with Queenslanders suffering the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, early education on sun safety is key. To address this, undergraduate engineering and business student Alana Clover has developed a wearable UV exposure-detecting device.

Due to Australia’s proximity to the equator and clear, blue-sky days, we experience some of the highest levels of ultra-violet (UV) radiation in the world, with two out of three Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. This wearable UV detection device aims to prevent sun damage and skin cancer by educating children from a young age about sun safety.

“The wristband features a sensor that is able to calculate the UV index and display it live on the screen. The device can also send reminders about sun safety with messages like the Cancer Council’s ‘slip, slop, slap’,” Ms Clover said.

Growing up with a parent in software engineering, it was a natural step for Ms Clover to pursue a career in enterprise software development, using her programming skills and putting technology to good use within the community.

“I’m really proud that the project has the potential to make a difference to children’s lives. Being able to use my software engineering and business skills to create technology that can be used in real-world situations and really help everyday people is very rewarding.”

Ms Clover’s sun safety wristband was one of many student projects presented to industry at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering’s annual Innovation Showcase event, where she won the ‘Best Industry-Focused Project’ Prize in the industry-based prize category.

The showcase highlights student work that has the potential to be developed further into a commercially-viable product through collaboration with industry and other external organisations.

To ensure the UV detection watch could be used in real-life, Ms Clover worked closely with the Cancer Council to seek direction on her idea.

“My supervisor, Dr Alex Pudmenzky, and I had discussions with the Cancer Council to understand their priorities and to create a product that could have everyday use. Together, we identified a focus on sun safety for children, so I had that in mind as I developed the watch and it’s now being considered as a viable product the Cancer Council may develop.”

Beyond the laboratory, the sky is now the limit for Ms Clover, who has secured a software development role at a growing real estate company, Inspect Real Estate and will commence with them before she graduates at the end of this year.

Model of UV Defender device including a complete model and a model showing composition: watch band, plastic casing, printed circuit board, display screen and protective outer layer.