• SunSprite: The First Solar-Powered Wearable

    Over the past year, I’ve helped invent a first-of-its-kind wearable device called SunSprite. It’s a small clip and connected app that helps people measure their daily exposure to bright light. Like a FitBit for the sun. But it never needs to be charged–it gets its energy from the sun, just like you and I.

    The company was founded by two Harvard psychiatrists who ardently believe that most people would benefit from more sunlight to improve their energy, ability to focus, overall mood, and nightly sleep quality (by resetting their circadian rhythm). The SunSprite is especially relevant for people who work inside, who don’t live in sunny southern California, who are sensitive to seasonal mood swings, and who don’t have a dog to walk in the morning.

    SunSprite just launched on the crowd funding platform Indiegogo (http://igg.me/at/sunsprite) and have already exceeded their funding goal of $50k to get into manufacturing.

    I’m especially proud of three aspects of SunSprite.

    1) It’s the first completely solar-powered wearable
    Please give me fewer things to charge! I’m so tired to tending to the powering needs of my quantified self. The bane of smart watches and smart jewelry is the recharging requirement and user experience. The magic of a FitBit, Nike Fuelband bracelet, or Narrative life-logging camera quickly fades when you have to find the damn charger every few days. Why don’t my Anoto pen and Tag never-lost clips have solar yet?

    2) The super-strong magnetic clip is incredibly strong and flexible
    The vision for wearables is that they are worn…not left in your sock drawer. The team at SunSprite did a lot of ethnographic research to understand how frequently people wear pedometers, and where, and their preferences for a wearable sun-sensor. The wrist is problematic since clothing covers watches and bracelets. Ideally, the device will be built into your glasses, since the precise measurement of bright light is photons incident on the eye. In the end, we designed a very strong magnet tethered to the SunSprite. This allows people to clip it to thin or thick clothing, a backpack or purse strap, or through a very thick winter jacket when you need to monitor sun exposure the most.

    We explored many options for making the SunSprite more stylized and jewelry-like before settling on a simpler river-stone shape.

    3) The SunSprite app is gorgeous.
    A graphically sophisticated app allows the physical object to remain austere. The Ambient Orb has no buttons because all of the configuration and information visualization is borne by the app. We’ve maintained this wonderful simplicity with the SunSprite. The app communicates with the wearable every second to show realtime brightness in LUX, and how many more minutes you need to be outside. It shows you when you received light that is bright enough to make a difference (greater than 2,500 LUX), trends for the last 10 days, gamification features like badges for streaks of peak exposure, and more.

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