Patch up and protect against the sun

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

The Spot

Parents are always in a frenzy to make sure their kids are caked in sunscreen in order to protect them during the blaze of a Canadian summer. This way they’re always one step ahead of ultra-violet rays trying to get through. Nanotechnology students at the University of Waterloo had the same concern, so they found a way to literally see when it’s time reapply sunblock.

They started a company called Suncayr, and their flagship product is the Spot. It looks like a regular patch, to the uninformed. But after sticking it to your skin and applying sunscreen the patch fades to transparency – like it’s not even there. If UV rays are reaching the sticker it regains its colour and design. But when the rays are being blocked the patch goes see-through again, resulting in an easy way to see if sunscreen is doing its job.

Suncayr recently joined Advance Queensland, an entrepreneurship company in Queensland, Australia. The government there put out a grant to attract international start-ups to work in Brisbane for six months. Suncayr’s application for the grant is noteworthy since Queensland has the world’s highest rate of skin cancer.

There’s been an increase in cases of skin cancer since the 1970’s and Suncayr’s product is an attempt to mitigate the rates of this terrible disease. With the Spot people can rest easy knowing they’re protected against the sun’s rays and kids can have some fun with all the shapes and designs the patches come in.

By: Jassi Bedi

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Curious Canada