Satellites deliver UV index via SMS

The European Space Agency (ESA) reports that a new service using its satellites can deliver the UV index to your cellphone via SMS. The HappySun service will advise about how to protect you and send you details about sea surface temperature and sea water transparency if you plan to dive. So far, the service is limited to two areas in Italy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60,000 deaths are caused annually by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In 'Satellites help ensure safe sunning,' the European Space Agency (ESA) reports that a new service using its satellites can deliver the UV index to your cellphone via SMS. The Happy Sun Mobile (HSM) service also will advise about how to protect you and send you details about sea surface temperature and sea water transparency if you plan to dive. So far, the service is limited to Sardinia and Tuscany, Italy, but several operators will start to use it next summer. But read more...

Let's start with a paragraph from the ESA news release.

Thanks to an innovative service called HappySun, the UV Index can be delivered directly to mobile phones via SMS or can be accessed on the Internet. HappySun calculates the UV Index throughout the day by using ESA satellite data on radiation, ozone and cloud coverage. [...] "HappySun is a tool for the primary prevention of skin cancer," Franco Marsili, Director of the Dermatology Clinic at the Versilia Hospital in Italy, said. "The aim is to educate people about the intelligent 'use' of the sun."
Users are able to personalise the service by completing an online questionnaire about skin sensitivity to UV. Once users specify the place and time of sun exposure, HappySun calculates the personal safe exposure time and suggests the adequate sun protection factor (SPF).

Below is a screenshot of what you could see on your cellphone if you have access to the Happy Sun Mobile service. (Credit: Flyby, HappySun service provider)

An example of a HappySun message

As I mentioned above, the HappySun service is currently available only in Italy, in Tuscany, for the Agenzia per il Turismo Versilia and in Sardinia, for Baja Hotels. Let's look at what is HSM useful for.

The HappySun Mobile service is conceived to offer to the tourist who decides to stay in Italy or in other Mediterranean countries information about the intensity of UV solar radiation, about the sea temperature and water transparency. Such information are useful [...] to avoid painful troubles like solar erythema, better known as "sunburns".

In How HSM works, you'll discover how the ESA satellites are used to give you information about UV solar photoprotection and can give you details about sea surface temperature and sea transparency.

But how does this work from your side? Let's look now at how to send a SMS request to get all this information. As I don't think you want to change daily the expensive product you bought for solar protection, here is what you could do.

If the user wants to specify the protective factor XX of the sunscreen he wants to use, he must send the following message to the HSM service number:
Text to type => E XX (where XX is a number made of 1 or 2 digits) (example: E BAJA SARDINIA 12)
HSM service will answer as follows: "Hi USERNAME,in LOCALITY the current UV index is UU. The suggested MAX exposure time when using the chosen sunscreen (XX protection factor) is Hh MMm"

Finally, just for fun, you can watch several interactive maps based on Google Maps information.

Now, will the HappySun service will become available for your favorite beach? I guess that for the moment you have to live in Europe.

Sources: European Space Agency, via EurekAlert!, October 12, 2006; and various websites

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