Invisible ink measures UV exposure via wearable technology

Posted on 26 Sep 2018 by Maddy White

An active ink embedded in a wearable device has been developed by researchers, to help monitor exposure and vitamin absorption of UV rays.

The color-changing sensors come in six variations.
The color-changing sensors come in six variations.

The wearable sensors have been developed by RMIT University researchers and change colour when exposed to different types of UV rays.

The sensors come in six variations to reflect the range in human skin tone. The discovery could help to provide people with an accurate and simple measure of their exposure levels throughout the day.

Application to manufacturing

The ink can be reportedly printed onto any paper-like surface to produce cheap wearable sensors in the form of wristbands or even stickers.

This of course means that the technology is not limited to the healthcare sector, any product or process that has exposure to UV rays could benefit from the monitoring ability, as UV rays can have damaging effects on the lifetime of many industrial and consumer products.

Tracking this exposure could help improve the safety and reliability of a range of items that could be impacted by the sun, including vehicles and military equipment, with huge potential cost savings.


While humans do need some sun exposure to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D, excessive exposure can cause sunburn, skin cancer and premature signs of aging.

Currently the only guide for managing sun exposure is UV index, however this blunt tool only indicates the intensity of UV rays. It does not act as a precise tool to monitor each individual’s daily exposure.

Fair skin (shade one) can only tolerate one-fifth of the UV exposure that darker skin (shade six) can before damage occurs, while darker types also require longer in the sun to absorb healthy amounts of Vitamin D.

Get insights like this delivered straight to your inbox

 Digital briefings | Front-of-mind topics 

  • Monday: Manufacturing Innovation
  • Tuesday: Manufacturing Leadership
  • Wednesday: Digital Transformation
  • Thursday: Industrial Internet

Sign up for free here