Apple doesn’t want you to get sunburned. And a new patent filing (number 20180202927) by the tech giant shows how it plans for its smartwatch to be used to prevent just that.
No, it doesn’t create a force field to protect you from the sun’s rays. The patent, dubbed “light-shielding detection,” involves a sunscreen detector for the Apple Watch. In the patent filing, Apple notes that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be associated with a variety of health conditions. Of course, protective measures (e.g., staying indoors or in the shade during peak times during the day, use of protective clothing, wearing sunscreen) can be taken to reduce the risks of UV overexposure to the skin.
Apple says that, although sunscreen can be characterized based on sun protection factor (SPF), the efficacy of the sunscreen as applied to the user's skin may differ based on, for example, the breakdown of one or more active ingredients in the sunscreen can break down, the user's skin sensitivity, the sunscreen's water-resistance. Future Apple Watches may help yo monitor the last time sunscreen was applied and remind you to reapply.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Disclosed herein is a sunscreen detector for use with portable device, such as a mobile and/or wearable device. One variation of a sunscreen detector comprises an illumination system that is configured to illuminate a target skin area with ultraviolet and/or infrared spectrum light and a sensor system that is configured to detect the amount of ultraviolet and/or infrared spectrum light that is reflected from the target skin area. The sunscreen detector is configured to analyze the data collected by the sensor system to generate a notification to the user as to whether they should apply sunscreen.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.