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NKC dermatologist develops personal sun exposure tracker

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Dr. Brian Matthys, founder and chief medical officer of Sunflower Dermatology and Medical Day Spa in North Kansas City, has launched Eclipse Rx, a solar-powered personal UV sun monitor and activity tracker.

As a board-certified dermatologist, Matthys knows that while skin cancer affects 1 in 5 people, it’s preventable. Armed with the Eclipse Rx, he’s on a mission to improve that ratio.

“As doctors, our goal is really to help people, and this is just a different way to do it for me that’s not just patient-by-patient per se, but in a bigger fashion,” Matthys said. “Every time I have to cut out something on a person that’s preventable, I just don’t like it. It’s kind of like the purpose behind the device is to make skin cancer history.”

The Eclipse Rx is worn on the wrist, like many activity trackers, to track sun exposure with sensors that record ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB radiation) as well as the UV index. The water-resistant band will vibrate to alert its wearer when to reapply sunscreen or move out of the sun.

Eclipse Rx also syncs with its own iPhone application; by registering your skin type and choice of SPF and sunscreen, the band and app monitor and report UV exposure, providing alerts when exposure is too high.

“As a technology lover in general … one who just likes technology and watching the adaptability and the wearability of these technology things from other companies like Apple or Garmin or Fitbit, I felt like none of them were doing anything in this area,” said Matthys. “Skin cancer is more common than all other cancers combined, and yet it’s also the most preventable. So I said, you know what, I wanted to do something about this.”

Matthys spent years thinking about the concept and developed it in earnest over the last three years. Through research and design, along with market research, the end product was created to serve those who care about their skin and wanted an easy way to manage exposure to the sun.

The product will officially debut in June. Marketing efforts are underway to reach consumers, as well as businesses, such as landscapers or those in construction, that have a vested interest in protecting employees’ skin.

Matthys helped co-found the charitable organization Fair and Fashionable to change the conversation on suntanned skin through fashion. Funds are raised to educate girls and women on the dangers of suntanning. He is also the creator of Avoid the Burn, featuring products that protect against UV exposure, including Eco-Sport sun protection products and a UPF 40 sun protection shirt.

“The idea of us wanting to use wearable technology to change behavior is really important to me,” said Matthys. “It’s definitely challenging, but we’re about the passion and purpose behind this, and I can tell you that every person who’s been involved in this project has made significant behavior changes with regard to how they think about the sun.”