Wearable Light Sensors Based on Unique Features of a Natural Biochrome

A novel, low cost, wearable device for measurement of sun exposure


Exposure to sunlight’s harsh radiation has proven to be detrimental to our health. Ultraviolet (UV)-rays, infrared (IR) and to a lesser degree, visible light, all contribute to skin damage. Thus, measuring differing levels of sun exposure for individuals has become a popular preventative-care tactic. Current devices for generating such measurements, however, are incredibly expensive, require substantial power and often contain toxic active ingredients. These devices also fall short in that they only detect specific wavelengths of light and cannot generate an all-encompassing exposure reading. 

Technology Overview

A research group at Northeastern University has developed a wearable, inexpensive light-sensing system capable of measuring light exposure within an expansive spectrum of radiation including UVA, UVB, UVC and IR/visible wavelengths. This invention consists of a simple device featuring xanthommatin, a novel biochrome discovered in nature, which holds unique light-interacting properties. Different levels and kinds of radiation exposure shift the wearable material’s visual appearance (color). Furthermore, the film-based design is incredibly comprehensive, inexpensive to manufacture and user-friendly. Xanthommatin is not only well suited for such an application but is also non-toxic and sustainable. 


  • Low cost and easily accessible 
  • Multi-use device can respond to a variety of spectral radiation 
  • Device components are naturally derived, non-hazardous and environmentally-friendly 


  • Solar light meters for skin health and exposure awareness 
  • UVC indicator stickers for confirmed germicidal sterilization 
  • Visible light sensors for tracking exposure to intense visible light 


  • License 
  • Commercial Partner 
  • Research Collaboration

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Daniel Wilson
Leila Deravi
Radiation detector