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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

This video and these gadgets could save you from getting skin cancer

I've lived in Florida for most of my life and after years of being in marching bands, covering sporting events as a photojournalist and now, driving a convertible, too many times I have been cooked by the sun. I know what to do and sometimes I do it, but it's inconvenient and slimy and I'm just too busy. Do those excuses sound familiar? Have you used them yourself? It's time to stop. If you want to know why, watch the gripping video below.

The video features Americans and Canadians who's lives were touched in some way by malignant melanoma. Makes you think, doesn't it? Using sunscreen and wearing hats can help, but even with those things we all should be trying to minimize our exposure. There are gadgets that can help with that.

Last year I told you about a free app from Coppertone called MyUVAlert. It's a free, location-aware app that's linked to The Weather Channel to bring you the latest local weather and UV index information. You can use it to set "suncare profiles" for the members of your family and even set sunscreen application reminders for each person.

Since then I've found two more UV radiation-monitoring iOS apps, Safe Tan and MyUVCheck.

Safe Tan provides is another location-aware app with information on the weather and UV radiation in your area. You tell the app the SPF rating of your sunscreen, your age and your skin type to get a recommended maximum time for healthy sun exposure. An included timer tells when it's time to go in. The app is $1.99.

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MyUVCheck, a free app developed by the La Roche Posay dermatological laboratories, is similar to the other two but it takes things a bit further. It's also location-aware and provides local UVA and UVB indexes.  The app lets you set up a personal profile using a set of questions about your tanning history, gender, skin color, current medications and skin. At the end of the survey you have a choice to join an online community or see recommended products. It's a free app so the sales pitch is expected and actually it's pretty minimal.

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The app has a map-based drugstore locator where you can find sunscreen products made by La Roche Posay and other manufacturers. The SOS (Save Our Skin) area is excellent, with lots of tips for safe sun exposure, UV radiation facts, risk analysis, instructions for self-examination of your skin and photos comparing normal moles to different types of melanoma.

c0c4_uv_monkey.jpgOne last gadget I also mentioned last year is the UV Monkey. The key chain-sized gadget has a chemical compound in it's rubber core that changes color to indicate the strength of UV radiation. When the color gets darker it's time to get out of the sun.


None of these gadgets are a replacement for common sense. Even when it's cloudy UV radiation is upon us. Have fun, be safe and minimize your risk as much as possible.


[Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 6:47pm]


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