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Dutch start-up e-Senses, in collaboration with Holst Centre, has developed the world’s first personal sunlight, daylight and vitamin D coach. The Helios smart ring gives wearers feedback on the amount of sunlight they receive and how much vitamin D they create, personalized to their skin type and behavior. It lets people find the perfect balance between sun safety and getting enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for strong teeth, muscles and bones, and has been shown to help prevent cancer. It’s created in our skin when exposed to sunlight, which itself is good for our immune systems, mental and physical health. But we are all well aware of the dangers of too much sun, leading us to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays. Moreover, changing work and leisure patterns are creating a much more indoor lifestyle. Consequently, a billion people are now vitamin D deficient.

The Helios smart ring features “a stylish, waterproof design that comes in black or white and fits perfectly around your finger”, Holst’s Steffie Vorstenbosch says. “Together with its accompanying app, the ring tracks the wearer’s exposure to sunlight and daylight as well as the current UV index. Then, based on profile entered into the app, it calculates how much vitamin D you are producing at that moment. To fill in that profile, you simply select which of the six pre-defined skin types most closely matches your own, what clothing you are wearing and what, if any, sunscreen you are using.”

The Helios app shows daily vitamin D production, and lets you know when you have reached the recommended daily minimum amount. It also gives statistics about sunlight, daylight and vitamin D per week, month and year. The daylight coach encourages the user to get enough daylight every day, while the sunlight coach lets you know when it’s time to reduce exposure to the sun (by covering up, applying sunscreen or simply turning over) to avoid sunburn.

“With the Helios ring, we wanted to give people unique and useful functionality in a design you could wear as a fashion item,” says Gleb Nikeschin of e-Senses. “Holst Centre’s support was invaluable, helping us explore technology options and especially with their expertise in miniaturization and low-power electronics. It was great to find an innovation center willing to take a risk on such a novel project with a small company like us.”

“It was very satisfying to join e-Senses, a local start-up company, in this endeavor,” says Holst Centre’s Jeroen Schram. “Together we pushed the possibilities of electronic design to the limits, creating some of the smallest and most power efficient electronics of its kind. It shows that the technologies we develop at Holst Centre are mature and ready for commercial products.”

The Helios smart ring goes on sale in February 2017. It is available now for preview orders via the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. e-Senses will also be showcasing the Helios ring at the Holland Startup Pavilion at CES 2017 in Las Vegas on January 5-8.