Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brian Matthys is passionate about raising awareness of sun exposure and reducing the number of skin cancer cases. Now, he’s taken that passion and more than 20 years of patient experience and launched a Kansas City startup, Eclipse Rx.
Developed over the course of four years, Eclipse Rx is a combination device and digital app. It’s the first solar-powered personal UV sun monitor and activity tracker on the market.
“Practicing dermatology for 20 years, I wanted to make more of a difference in a different arena than just patient after patient,” said Matthys. “I want to make this almost completely preventable disease so much more preventable using technology.”
The statistics on skin damage from the sun are serious, but Matthys said people don’t take exposure seriously. One in five people develops skin cancer, and sunburns substantially increase a person’s risk of getting the disease. The sun also causes 90 percent of skin aging, such as age spots and wrinkles.
Simply wearing sunscreen helps prevent both cancer and damage.
“I want to change people’s behaviors,” said Matthys. “If people care about their skin, and they’re aware of how the sun affects it over a lifetime, then this is the perfect solution. Nobody wants a sunburn. Sunburns or aging are mostly due to lack of awareness.”
Matthys said he asks his patients if they use sun protection daily. They often reply, “‘No, only when I go outside.” He frequently has to point out that by getting to his office, they did, in fact, go outside and expose themselves to the sun.
“People never plan to get a sunburn, they just fail to plan not to,” said Matthys. “The device uses what we call the ‘advance approach to sun protection’ so people can make better personal decisions.”
Eclipse Rx works by tracking the sun’s strength (the UV index) and recording ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB radiation) in real time on the wristband device and transferring the information to the app.
The app then uses an algorithm to determine a user’s sun exposure based on a personal profile with information about skin type, age, sunscreen applications and sunscreen SPF.
The device will vibrate to alert users when to reapply sunscreen or move out of the sun.
“We want to make thinking about sun protection and putting on sunscreen like brushing your teeth – something you do every day,” Dr. Matthys says. “The Eclipse Rx device will get smarter over time. The more you wear it, the more data about your sun exposure will be available to you and your dermatologist, and we will add enhancements to the app over time.”
Eclipse Rx will begin shipping in July and is currently available for preorder on the Eclipse Rx website and in Dr. Matthys’ Kansas City dermatology office. The device will be available from other retailers soon.
Matthys said his development team will continue to do beta testing with the next round of devices in order to gain even more information and feedback on how people are using the product and how they can best protect themselves.
“The beta testers are already so excited that they don’t have to think about the sun,” said Matthys. “They can go out to the park, they can go out with their kids, and they’re protected in a way based on an enhanced awareness that they weren’t before.”
Matthys said he’s excited to be able to provide people with a product that can change their behavior for the better and make them healthier.
“I’m really excited to create a product with a purpose that is mutually designed to change behavior in a positive way, and effect a significant health problem that people suffer from,” said Matthys. “I want to make skin cancer history.”
Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.