The Netatmo June comes in platinum, gold, and gunmetal and can be worn as a bracelet or a brooch. (Netatmo)
Netatmo’s June, a UV-detecting smart bracelet, is one of the first truly beautiful items of modern wearable technology. It’s meant to be worn on the wrist, where it registers the sun’s intensity and offers you protection recommendations based on your skin type. It does just that, while being a nice piece of jewelry to boot. But, despite its smart design, it misses being as easy to use as I’d expect from such a high-end gadget.
The “personalized sun-protection coach” consists of a detachable “jewel” sensor that can be worn as a brooch or attached to one of two black wrapping bracelets (one leather and one silicone). Along with those accessories comes an iOS app that connects to the sensor via Bluetooth. When you launch the app, it asks you to describe your skin type, hair color, and eye color, crunches that info, and then uses it to offer daily sun protection recommendations that specify the level of sunscreen SPF you should wear, as well as accessories like hats and sunglasses you should bring along. It’ll also keep track of your daily “sun dosage” to let you know if you’ve been baking outdoors too long.
All these recommendations are sourced straight from your bracelet centerpiece, which has embedded UVA and UVB sensors. The app uses information about your particular skin type (according to categories established by the World Health Organization) and data from its sun sensor to generate a UV index for you that you can see on your smartphone.
You’re probably thinking: “Who cares that much about a little sun?” I can relate. When I know I’m going to be outdoors for a while, I simply slather on some SPF 30 and call it a day. It seems excessive, at first, to purchase a $99 bracelet that I have to connect to my phone and periodically check in with.
But anyone with fair skin must always be mindful of what awaits her on a summer day. Ditto for anyone whose skin has undergone serious sun damage and wants to avoid even more. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 2 million people are diagnosed with it a year.
While wearing June, I was surprised to see how little attention I had paid in the past to my potential sun exposure. Sure, throughout the week, the confines of my office kept me at depressingly low UV-dosage levels. But while I was out and about beneath the sweltering New York sun, it became clear that my default protection techniques really weren’t cutting it. On overcast days, when I assumed I was safe to go sans sunscreen, June warned that I was still at risk of getting a sunburn, even if I went for just a 20-minute run unprotected. One day of overdoing it isn’t such a big deal, but a whole summer of that laissez-faire attitude can cause permanent damage. Seeing the numbers displayed so starkly was really a wake-up call. Just the presence of the bracelet on my wrist reminded me to grab a hat or a bottle of sunscreen.
When the June works properly, it feeds you very helpful information. But some of its most basic functions are a little buggy. Connecting the jewel to my phone via Bluetooth took me three tries, even though the device was a centimeter away.
But what I really craved with June was some sort of hint, aside from the app on my phone, that it was working. Part of what makes this wearable a nice piece of jewelry is that it doesn’t light up or vibrate. But it would’ve been useful to have, at least, a small light attached to the side to tell me when I need to recharge the battery. (It’s supposed to last a month if you charge it for a whopping 12 hours. But I couldn’t find time for that.)
If you are already obsessive about your sun exposure, and trust that you’d integrate maintenance of your June into that habit, then by all means, get the thing. But June is not meant to be the same Rocky-esque motivator as, say, a Nike FuelBand. It won’t beep and light up when UV exposure is too high. Rather, it’ll sit there, looking fabulous, while also acting as a subtle reminder to find a patch of shade.
The Netatmo June is now on sale on Netatmo’s website. Get it here.