Introducing our first premium feature – Forecast UV

 

We are proud to announce that we’ve just released a very exciting new feature for SunVisor across both our iOS and Android applications*: forecast UV!

This new feature, available for just a $0.99 upgrade, provides a beautiful chart that allows you to visualize the forecasted UV index, including the daily maximum, at your current location over the entire day. It is also interactive because when you tap on any hour of the day on the graph, a color coded marker appears that shows you what the exact predicted UV index for that hour of the day! The color coding scheme matches same color codes used to classify the level of the UV index in the rest of the app. For example, a color code of red means the UV index at that time is forecast to be very high, whereas a color code of green means the UV index at that time is forecast to be low.

This feature makes it really easy to plan your day ahead in terms of your sun exposure and need to take adequate sun protection measures for you and your family. Along with our real time dashboard and personalized alerts we provide in the app, staying sun safe has never been easier!

We have many other exciting new features in the pipeline that we will be rolling out over the rest of 2016, but always welcome feature requests and feedback from our valued users. Have a feature request you’d like to see? Email us anytime at info@mhealdigital.com

Keeping you sun safe, always.

Lance & the SunVisor team

* Our forecast UV feature is only available at this stage in the USA, but we are working hard to make it available to other regions as soon as possible.

 

 

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SunVisor US Launch on Android

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Following our recent launch of the SunVisor iOS app on the US App Store earlier this month, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve just launched our Android version on the US Google Play store!

One of the most exciting features of our Android app is that it incorporates our proprietary low-power indoor-outdoor detection technology  that gives it the ability to automatically know whether you are outside and exposed to the sun, or otherwise indoors and/or in the shade. What this means is that without even opening or interacting with the app, the app know’s whether you are exposed to the the sun’s UV rays, and then keeps track of the amount of time that you are exposed to the sun. Using the real-time or forecast UV index at your exact location, it then estimates your level of UV exposure. The app then uses this data to decide if you need to be notified about the risk of potential skin damage and sun burn!

All tracked UV exposure data is stored in our secure backend database. In future versions of the app you will be able to access this data via visual graphs which show a history of your daily UV exposure over time, similar to the way your smartwatch or fitness tracker allows you to visualize your daily step count over time.

As always, we look forward to any suggestions or feedback you have about SunVisor.

Enjoy the sun safely this US summer!

Lance & the SunVisor Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanning not so cool anymore

With summer approaching, in face of the obvious health risks, you may see people begin to flock to the beach to work on their suntan. If you were to ask people’s opinions and preferences related to sun bathing, you would get a divided response. With increased awareness of health issues many people vouch for the health benefits of being sun smart, while others will still readily lie in direct view of the sun all day.

While sun tanning is quite a common activity in 2014, it may be surprising to know that this is a relatively new trend in human history. You’d have to look back to the 60’s to learn how sun tanning became part of western culture. The seamless sun tan had become iconic of female celebrities and film stars such as Brigitte Bardot and was representative of a life of leisure and a rebellion against social norms of the past. It was seen as a signal that such a woman was in control of her own body. However, what began as a minor attitude shift, soon became a full-fledged craze.

With all corners of the media projecting the sun tan ideology, adults and teenagers everywhere were now attempting to imitate what they saw in celebrity clad magazines. To make things worse, technology soon caught up to supply a market for customized and on-demand tanning, and with this the sun-bed was born, a device capable of increasing someone’s risk melanoma by 59% if they are under the age of 35 at the time of use. With tanning beds housed in glamorized ‘salons’, continued celebrity endorsement, and effective marketing, the industry became big business. The claim that a tan gives you a “healthy glow” was and still is central to the marketing tactics of these salons.

The main consequence following the post 60’s craze was a dramatic increase in skin cancers, especially in Australia, which has the highest incidence and mortality rates in the world. This trend has become a big concern for lots of people and has a once again begun to change our perception of the suntan. Unlike Brigitte Bardot, many of today’s female celebrities, including Victoria Beckham and Nicole Kidman have explicitly abandoned the bronzed look, instead choosing to promote their natural colour. The glamour and prestige attached to the tanned look is fading fast, as women are choosing to go with their own natural glow.

Studies show that this downward trend is alive and well across the Australian population. With the number of teenagers preferring a suntan dropping 15% from 2004 to 2011 and 22% amongst adults in the same time period.

Further studies in the area of UV exposure continue to reveal the disadvantages of sun tanning. In the attempt to achieve the seemingly youthful bronzed look, it turns out we are in fact contributing to the very ageing of our skin. Sunbathing breaks up the fibers that keep our skin looking firm and smooth, as a result, speed up the development of wrinkles, blotches, and freckles. Sunbathing to get a tan is certainly not so cool anymore.

How does altitude affect UV?

There are a number of factors influencing how much UV we are exposed to as we are out and about, including altitude. There are a variety of reasons for this, including how the UV rays are absorbed by the ozone layer and amount of cloud cover. Please note the explanation that you are simply closer to the sun is not one of the reasons why altitude affects UV!

Before any further discussion, let’s remember that UV-B rays are the primary focus when thinking about the affects of altitude. UV-C rays are filtered out entirely by the ozone layer, while UV-A rays are basically unfiltered. Thus, it is the UV-B levels we care about here.

The majority of UV-B rays are in fact absorbed by the ozone layer. Most of the ozone layer subsides in the lower part of the stratosphere at around 20-30km above sea level. As a result, altitudes greater than 20-30km see much greater levels of UV-B. In fact UV-B levels are up to 350 million times higher at the top of the atmosphere than at the earth’s surface. These heights are greater than most people will ever go in their lifetime (Mount Everest stands at 7,200m above sea level and planes reach a maximum of 10,000-13,000m).

Below 20-30km, the general rule is that UV-B levels increase by 4% every 300m gain in altitude. A thinner atmosphere is the primary reason for this, as there are fewer particles to absorb UV. At low altitudes, the presence of tropospheric ozone (smog), aerosols, and other substances such as dust reduce the UV-B levels that reach the ground. These chemicals also become less dense as altitude increases.

Another side effect of high altitudes is changes in cloud cover. Clouds have the ability to reflect and scatter UV-B radiation. Typically clouds form anywhere between ground level and 18,000m high, with the cloud’s depth depending on its type. In general, the higher the altitude above ground level, the decreased likelihood of UV absorption by cloud cover. Mountains are an exception to this in that they tend to catalyze cloud formation above them for reasons relating to airflow and pressure. However, due to reflection from snowfall and a thinner atmosphere as mentioned earlier, mountaintops still tend to show much higher UV-B levels.

The bottom line here – altitude creates greater risk of skin damage secondary to higher UV-B levels. Be extra sun safe at high altitude!