I once had my legs get so sunburnt that I couldn’t walk for a week. I wasn’t in the Sahara desert or some other exotic locale. I was on a Haven Holidays caravan trip to Winchelsea. The June by Netatmo, designed to measure UV exposure to warn users of the potential to be sunburnt, is made for people just like me.
What Is It?
A small UV sensor with a Bluetooth Low Energy connection to an iPhone, made to be worn as a bracelet charm or brooch.
Who Is It For?
Though it’s packed full of Bluetooth modules and UV sensors, the June has been designed to look just like a piece of jewellery. Available in gold, platinum and gunmetal shades, its many-sided top surface gives it a diamond-like sparkle in the sun. Ready to be either clipped onto a wrist strap or onto a shirt, it’s very light -- you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it and, though it’s not waterproof, it’s splash-proof enough to survive a quick shower. You could conceivably wear this all day, even to bed.
The June comes with a small fabric carry case and two leather straps (one black leather, the other still black, but more rubbery and “sporty”). A small wedge-like charging connector slides under the brooch, with a USB port on one end.
The June works by (passively) taking a UV reading from your environment and measuring that against information you’ve given to its accompanying iPhone app regarding your skin tone, eye and hair colours. The information you give the app places you somewhere along the five-point Fitzpatrick Scale for skin tone (“1” being Goth-pale, “5” being David Dickinson-leathery), which, alongside the UV reading determined by the World Health Organisation’s UV Index, determines when the app tells you to be avoiding the sun.
The app offers a local four-day weather forecast -- one that’s sadly limited to a UV Index estimate, though it does also tell you what time the sun will rise and set. Here, it also tells you what you need to pop into your bag to stay well-protected during the day, be that a high factor suncream, sunglasses or a hat. Either I’m more sensitive to the sun than I realised, or the app is extremely conservative, however -- even on an overcast day, the June was encouraging me to wear factor 30 protection. Better safe than sorry I suppose. There’s also an option to take a live UV reading, if you think the estimates are a little bit off.
The Best Part
Once you’re out and about, you can choose to tell the June whether or not you’re wearing suncream and, based on the UV Index, your Fitzpatrick Scale standing and the time you’ve spent in the sun, it’ll send a notification to your phone telling you that you’re approaching the limits of safe sun exposure. It’s easy to get complacent when you’re having fun on a hot summer’s day, and while the June can sometimes feel like a bit of a killjoy, seeing its “Sun Dose” meter build up to red-hot warning levels is a suitably-worrying reminder that your skin is precious and needs protecting.
The June had a tendency to lose its connection to my iPhone with troubling regularity -- I could have my hand in my pocket next to my phone with the June on my wrist, and still the two would struggle to communicate. This throws out the June’s UV tracking data, meaning the notifications reminding you to take shelter from the sun or reapply lotion can come too late. If you’re so insensitive as to fail to realise when the sun is beating down on you (unlikely as that is), the June would fail to remind you to protect yourself, which sort of defeats the whole point.
On the other hand, if you’re British and reading this, you may not even know what the sun is, let alone need something to remind yourself to protect against it. Those in sunnier locations will obviously benefit the most from the June.
This Is Weird
Why no serious waterproofing? This thing is tailor-made for beach wear, and you can’t have a beach without the sea. Splashing around in the cool water can lead people into a false sense of security out under the sun, and UV rays reflected off its surface are particularly harmful. Obviously, you can’t take your smartphone into the water with you, but the inclusion of a water-sensor perhaps (giving a notification when you get back to your iPhone to tell you to re-apply any lotion washed-off) would have been a great feature.
- There’s no Android app or web app to accompany the June yet, so you’ll have to rely on your own judgement as to when it’s getting a bit too toasty if you don’t have an iPhone. You know, like our ancestors did or something.
- Battery life is quoted as lasting a month and, given the level that my June’s battery indicator is showing after a few days use, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Though it’s using Bluetooth LE, its need for a constant connection to your iPhone will see your smartphone’s battery deplete a little quicker than you’d usually see it do.
- The initial set-up process caused me a few headaches. The app asks that the June is paired with your phone whilst attached to its charging port. What it doesn’t state, rather unintuitively, is that the charging port shouldn’t be plugged into a USB port or power supply at the same time. It caused the June to go a bit haywire, and then wouldn’t complete the initial pairing until I’d logged out of the app entirely.
- Aimed primarily at ladies, the June may not be the most blinging accessory you have but it still has a feminine feel to it, which may put off testosterone-fuelled blokes.
Should You Buy It?
If you’re milky-skinned and unable to even read the tell-tale physical signs that your skin is cooking, then sure -- the June sensor is worth picking up. It’s particularly good at reminding you that, though you may not be lounging around for a tan intentionally, the sun is still out to fry you. It’s mere presence on your wrist is a reminder to cover up. However, it’s pricey for a gadget that (in the UK at least) you may only get a few sunny day’s worth of use out of each year, and its frequent Bluetooth dropouts, until fixed, make the data its app relies upon sometimes inaccurate.
Netatmo June Specs
Price: £69 RRP
Connectivity: Bluetooth LE
Battery: 1 month, rechargeable