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Believe it or not! A smartphone app would now provide you protection from sun. The Solar Cell app was developed by Klein Buendel, Colorado, under a contract with the National Cancer Institute in the US provides sun-protection advice based on UV Index forecasts and personal information from the users, as well as alerts to apply or reapply sunscreen.
David B Buller, of Klein Buendel and coauthors conducted a randomised clinical trial in 2012 which enrolled 604 participants and of the 305 individuals in the treatment group 232 people downloaded the app but only 125 individuals (41%) used it.
The complete data of 454 individuals (222 in the treatment group and 232 in a control group) was available. Participants in the treatment group reported spending more time in the shade (average days staying in the shade, 41% vs 33.7%) but less sunscreen use (average days, 28.6% vs 34.5%) than those in the control group.
There was no significant difference in the number of sunburns in the past three months between the groups.
The users reported spending less time in the sun and more use of all sun protection behaviours such as sunscreen, protective clothing and shade combined.
Experts said the Solar Cell mobile app seemed to promote sun protection practices, especially when it was used. Specifically, it increased use of shade. Shade can substantially reduce exposure to solar UV radiation (UV-R), but it needs to be available for it to be used.
A second randomized trial on the use of the app showed some improvement and was associated with greater sun protection.
The app was also found to be helpful by women. They reported more use of all sun protection (such as sunscreen, protective clothing and shade) combined than men (46.4% vs 43.3%) but men and older participants reported less use of sunscreen (32.7% vs 35.5%) and hats (15.6% vs 17.9%).