Students' UV sensor app sends sun-safe alert

By Ben Chapman-Smith

InfinityTek's wristband sensor measures UV radiation and communicates information to a Windows smartphone app. Photo / Supplied
InfinityTek's wristband sensor measures UV radiation and communicates information to a Windows smartphone app. Photo / Supplied

A smartphone app which measures UV exposure and issues a warning if the user is at risk of getting burnt has taken out a prestigious national technology competition.

Microsoft's Imagine Cup attracted 549 proposals from university student teams across the country, with 24 finalists then asked to build functional prototypes of their software solutions.

InfinityTek, a team of four from Auckland, has this week been crowned winner for its app called UVsense.

The group's wristband sensor measures the amount of UV radiation a person has been exposed to and wirelessly communicates this information to a Windows smartphone app.

When the app detects the user is in danger of getting burnt, a notification alarm will alert them to seek shade or apply more sunscreen.

As well as winning $6000, InfinityTek also earned the right to represent New Zealand at the worldwide Imagine Cup finals in St Petersburg, Russia, in July.

The team had so far spent about $600 of their own money on the project but would be using a portion of their winnings to complete development before July, said team leader Daniel Xu.

The main challenge now lay in reducing the hardware component from its current credit-card size to being small enough to fit on the wrist, he said.

"We want to have a fully working hardware prototype made before the finals but we just need to make the whole thing a little bit smaller so it's easier to wear," Xu said.

Xu and the other team members - Ming Cheuk, Muthu Chidambaram and Jacky Zhen - collectively have degrees in mechatronics engineering and computer sciences.

That made the group "quite a capable bunch", said Xu, who is now undertaking a PHD in bio-engineering.

Candace Kinser, head of the New Zealand Information and Communications Technology Group (NZICT), said the UVsense project was a well thought-out prototype which showed InfinityTek's "imagination and technical skills".

"Skin cancer resulting from over-exposure to the sun is a worldwide issue, and this team has created a novel way to help people of all ages manage their exposure easily and effectively."

Kinser said the judging panel were confident the team would impress in Russia.

New Zealand has performed well in previous years, with kiwi teams finishing in the top six at the Worldwide Finals the last three years.

The Imagine Cup is now in its 11th year and more than 1.65 million students from 190 countries have participated in the past decade.

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