Sunlight has been associated with a host of health benefits, including the ability of the body to generate vitamin D, produce compounds that reduce blood pressure and cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, and even with with losing weight.
So you don't have to be an obsessive quantified self-type to consider wearing a device that tracks your exposure. It may actually do you good. Developed by Harvard-trained engineers along with two psychiatric doctors from Harvard Medical School, the SunSprite is a device that measures how much light you get on a daily basis. It includes sensors for bright, visible light, as well as UV light that you might want to avoid for cancer or other negative reasons. It's about the size of your thumb, powered with a little solar panel, and clips magnetically to your shirt pocket or shoulder strap.
"It ensures that people get enough bright light so they're healthy and happy. We talk about energy, mood, focus and sleep," says Edward Likovich, CEO of GoodLux Technology, the company behind the device. "It has 10 lights. You press the side and see how far along towards your goal you are."
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The SunSprite works with a mobile app that allows you to set daily goals, track progress, read up on sunlight-related science, and win badges. Likovich sees three markets: the quantified self community, people worried about skin exposure, and people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. But he hopes to attract a wider audience as well. "The bulk of our purchasers are just people who want to be healthy and recognize that we spend so much time indoors now and that it's important to be outdoors and get sunlight," he says.
The device is a collaboration between the doctors, Richard Schwartz and Jacqueline Olds, who regularly prescribe light exposure to their patients, and Kasey Russell, Tom Hayes, and Likovich, whose PhD was in semiconductor engineering. GoodLux ran a successful Indiegogo campaign this March and started shipping in late August.
Likovich hopes to be on Amazon in a few weeks. But, for now, you can purchase at SunSprite.com. It costs $99 and comes in two versions—clear and "slate." If you're worried you're not getting enough light, it may be a good investment.